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Missing girl's family plans ad blitz

  • Story Highlights
  • McCanns to launch ad campaign aimed at keeping daughter hunt going
  • Family spokesman says campaign will launch in two weeks
  • Project will be paid for with about $160,500 from nonprofit fund
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From CNN's Ben Blake
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ROTHLEY, England (CNN) -- The family of Madeleine McCann, the British girl who vanished in Portugal more than four months ago, will launch a massive advertising campaign aimed at keeping the search for her a public priority.


Madeleine McCann's disappearance sparked huge interest. She was reported missing in early May.

A family spokesman told reporters Saturday the campaign would begin in two weeks.

The advertisements will run in newspapers, and on billboards and television broadcasts in Spain, Portugal and other parts of Europe "to remind everyone that Madeleine is still missing," said Madeleine's uncle, John McCann, who also is the family spokesman.

The project will be paid for with about $160,000 from the nonprofit fund set up to receive public donations for the search.

"This financing of advertisements will complement previous efforts by the fund and many motivated individuals -- family, friends and people touched by our cause," McCann said.Video Watch latest from search for Madeleine McCann »

The 4-year-old girl's disappearance has gathered intense international attention, including help from soccer celebrity and icon David Beckham, who offered to raise money for the search. The parents have even met with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.

Saturday's announcement comes about a week after Portuguese authorities named Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, as suspects in the disappearance of their daughter.

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Portuguese officials have not commented publicly on evidence or interviews in the case, but authorities allegedly found Madeleine's blood in a car the family rented 25 days after reporting her disappearance in May. The Portuguese TV station SIC, citing police sources, reported that DNA matches to the girl were found in the car.

Portuguese police won't release details of the case, citing the ongoing investigation, and CNN has been unable to independently confirm the information.

The McCanns have consistently maintained their innocence.

Since returning to their home in Rothley, England, after leaving Portugal on Sunday, the family has received between 500 and 1,000 items in the mail daily, family spokeswoman Natalie Orange said.

Cards, flowers and "all sorts of messages of support" have been mailed, Orange said, including some "crank letters."

The couple has been criticized by some for leaving their three children in their vacation apartment on the night of Madeleine's disappearance while dining nearby.

On Friday, the family went to London and consulted with legal and media advisers, according to Orange. She did not provide additional details.

On Tuesday, a Portuguese prosecutor gave a judge the files on Madeleine's case, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said.

Luisa Duarte would not say why the files were being handed to the judge. The options could include authorizing further search warrants or changing the status of the girl's parents as suspects.

If they are charged, the McCanns will have five days to present themselves to police in Portugal, de Sousa said. Brian Kennedy, Kate McCann's uncle, told reporters Monday the McCanns would return to Portugal if asked to do so.

Madeleine's parents reported the abduction May 3. They said they left Maddy and their 2-year-old twins asleep in their resort apartment in Praia da Luz, in southern Portugal, while dining just yards away.

Philomena McCann, the sister of Madeleine's father, told the British network ITN that police "tried to get Kate to confess to having accidentally killed Madeleine by offering her a deal through her lawyer" in which she would say she killed Madeleine by accident "and then disposed of the body."

The Sunday Mirror quoted Kate McCann discussing the offer in an interview with the paper.


"They are basically saying, 'If you confess Madeleine had an accident, and that I panicked and hid the body in a bag for a month, then got rid of it in a hire car, I'd get two or three years' suspended sentence,'" she is quoted as saying, adding, "Police don't want a murder in Portugal."

Friends and relatives of the McCanns have dismissed as farfetched any suggestion the parents could have harmed their daughter. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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