The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009 - The Daily Star - UK Hails Release of Hostage Held in Iraq since 2007

Britain hails release of hostage held in Iraq since 2007
Man in good spirits despite ordeal in which 4 bodyguards died

Michael Thurston
Agence France Presse

LONDON: A British computer expert kidnapped in Iraq in 2007 has been freed and is in good spirits despite a hostage ordeal in which four bodyguards also seized died or are feared dead, Britain said Wednesday. Peter Moore, 36, had experienced an “unspeakable two and a half years of misery, fear and uncertainty,” Foreign Secretary David Miliband said, while lamenting the deaths.

“Peter was set free by his captors this morning in Baghdad and delivered to the Iraqi authorities. He is now in the care of the British embassy in Baghdad,” he said.

“He’s in a remarkable frame of mind given the two and a half years that he has had,” Miliband added.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “I am hugely relieved by the wonderful news that Peter has been freed, and will be reunited with his family as quickly as possible.

“They have faced a terrible ordeal, and I know that the whole nation will share their joy that he is coming home. I pay tribute to all those who helped in the protracted effort to secure the release.” Moore, an IT consultant working for US firm BearingPoint, was seized along with his four bodyguards from the finance ministry in Baghdad in May 2007, by some 40 gunmen from a group called the League of the Righteous.

Since then the four bodyguards have been confirmed dead or believed to have died: the bodies of Jason Swindlehurst, 38, and Jason Creswell, 39, were handed over to Britain in June, followed by that of Alec MacLachlan in September.

Brown added: “At this moment of celebration, we also remember the families of British hostages who have been killed in Iraq and elsewhere.

“And we pledge to continue to do everything we can to bring British hostages back to their loved ones, including the remaining hostage of the group in Iraq, Alan McMenemy. I demand that the hostage takers return him to us.”

Miliband said the release of Moore had been secured following a process of political reconciliation driven by the Iraqi government.

“For many months now, the government of Iraq has been taking forward a process of national reconciliation with armed groups prepared to renounce violence.

“That process of reconciliation has made possible Peter Moore’s release today. I hope it will lead to the end of the scourge of hostage-taking and violence.”

In Baghdad, a government spokesman echoed the comments, saying: “Iraq always supported the efforts to release all the hostages … This step comes within the context of Iraqi government efforts to achieve national reconciliation.”

But Miliband added: “Today we are able to be pleased at the release of Peter but we don’t forget that three British people are certainly dead, and one is likely to be so.”

The League of the Righteous kidnapped the five in an audacious operation in which heavily armed militants posed as security personnel.

In March the group said it would release the five Britons it had kidnapped in exchange for 10 of its leaders being held by American forces in Iraq.

The League of the Righteous is made up of militants who broke away from the Mahdi army, the formerly armed militia group loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The group is also suspected of being behind an attack in January 2007 that killed one US soldier and led to the abduction of four others. They too were later found dead.

On April 1, Iraq’s Committee for National Reconciliation said it had begun talks with the League of the Righteous, but did not make any specific mention of the hostages.

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