British hostage, Peter Moore, who once worked in Guyana with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), has been released alive from captivity in Iraq, Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said.
He said that Moore, an IT consultant from Lincoln, who was seized in Baghdad in May 2007, was in good health and “absolutely delighted at his release”.
Moore, a computer expert, came to Guyana in 2004 through Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) UK. He then worked at the Lands and Survey Department before undertaking the task of volunteer Database Administrator during the flood relief operations in early 2005.
In January 2006, Moore joined GGMC where he worked as a Systems Administrator/Programmer before resigning in April, but maintaining close contact with friends and former colleagues here.
The 31-year-old Moore was apprehensive about going to work in Iraq, but took the job there to help, friends had said.
Miliband said the Moore family felt deep relief after two-and-a-half years of “misery, fear and uncertainty”.
Four bodyguards were seized with Moore. Three were shot dead; the fourth is also thought to have been killed. The bodies of Jason Swindlehurst, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, of Glasgow, were returned to the UK in June 2009, followed by that of Alec MacLachlan, of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, in September.
Miliband has called for the release of the body of the fourth guard – Alan McMenemy from Glasgow.
Miliband said that Moore, who had been released on Wednesday morning, was in the British Embassy in Baghdad and would be reunited with his family as soon as possible.
The foreign secretary said he had had a “very moving” conversation with Mr Moore, who was “to put it mildly, absolutely delighted”. He is undergoing medical checks.
“The joy and relief that will be felt by Peter’s family will be mirrored by the continuing anguish of the family of Alan McMenemy, the last of the five men taken hostage. We have believed for some time that he has been killed and his family has been told our view of his likely fate.”
The Foreign Secretary also told the BBC there were no concessions or deals made to secure Moore’s release.
“This was an Iraqi-led process of political reconciliation in which an armed group has made vows to come within the political system and to renounce violence, and that’s the foundation of Peter Moore’s release,” he said.
Moore had been working for US management consultancy, Bearing Point, in Iraq. The other men were security contractors employed to guard him.
The group was captured at the Iraqi Ministry of Finance by about 40 men disguised as Iraqi policemen.
They were understood to belong to an obscure militia known as the Islamic Shia Resistance, which demanded the release of up to nine of their associates held in US military custody since early 2007.
Several had already been handed to the Iraqi Government. Some had then been freed under a national reconciliation process, with armed groups which renounce violence being brought into the mainstream as Iraq prepares for elections.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said it appeared “some kind of deal” had been done, though not necessarily involving the British government.
“The main person the abductors wanted back, I’m told, is out of US custody… and handed over to the Iraqis,” he said.
Qais Al-Khazaali had been suspected of involvement in the kidnapping and eventual killing of five US soldiers, Gardner added.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in comments, expressed relief “by the wonderful news that Peter has been freed. 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.”
Moore’s father Graeme, 60, from Wigston, Leicestershire, said he was “over the moon” at the news.
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