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British PM: 'Hostage video adds to families' anguish'

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  • NEW: Gordon Brown: "These men have suffered enough"
  • Brown issued statement Sunday during a visit to Israel
  • Times of London reports video shows statement saying that "Jason" died in May
  • The video was received in Baghdad last week, the newspaper said
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A videotaped statement claiming one of five British hostages captured in Iraq last year has committed suicide is an "abhorrent film" that will only increase the anguish suffered by their families, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Sunday.

The Times Online reported Sunday that kidnappers said one of five British hostages in Iraq killed himself in May.

The video also reportedly shows another British hostage, identified as "Alan".

The London-based newspaper The Sunday Times posted a video online in which the kidnappers claimed that the hostage -- identified as "Jason" -- died on May 25, four days before the first anniversary of the abduction. The footage also shows another hostage appealing for the British government to hasten the men's release.

"This abhorrent film will only add to the anguish of families who've suffered a great deal over more than a year when their loved ones have been in captivity," Brown said in a statement issued Sunday during a visit to Israel.

"These men have suffered enough," Brown said. "I call on those people who are the militias who have taken them captive to release them immediately." Video Watch Gordon Brown's statement in Israel »

The video was received in Baghdad last week, the newspaper said.

"Physically, I'm not doing well," the unidentified hostage is heard saying. "Psychologically, I'm doing a lot worse. I want to see my family again."

The British government said it had "no independent verification of the claims in this video," including the purported death of the hostage," a spokeswoman said.

The five Britons and two Iraqis were kidnapped in May 2007 from an Iraqi Finance Ministry building in Baghdad.

Four of the British citizens worked for Canadian security firm Garda. They were protecting the fifth Briton, a computer analyst with U.S.-based BearingPoint.

The only fully identified captive has been Peter Moore, who said his name in a video released in February pleading with the British government to negotiate for the hostages' release.

On May 29, the anniversary of the kidnappings, Britain's ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Prentice, appealed to the kidnappers to let the captives go.

The Sunday Times story said an intermediary who handed the video to a newspaper representative said the hostage who died had made two previous attempts at suicide. "He said proof of death would be provided only if the British government agreed to negotiate," the newspaper said.

The video posted on the newspaper's Web site is titled "Intihar" -- or "suicide" -- and opens with a photograph of the hostage wearing a football shirt. He is identified as "Jason" in a statement, signed "The Shiite Islamic Resistance in Iraq" that appears on screen. The statement, as translated by the newspaper, blames the British government for the status of the hostages.

"This procrastination and foot-dragging and lack of seriousness on the part of the British government has prolonged their psychological deterioration, pushing one of them, Jason, to commit suicide on 25/5/2008," the statement said, according to the newspaper. "He surprised our brethren, who were taking care of him, with his suicide."

The newspaper reported that the captors said say they regret the hostages death "but hold the British government responsible for the hostages' fate."


Prime Minister Brown said he raised the issue of the hostages during his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad Saturday. Video Watch British PM meet Iraqi counterpart »

"We will work with the Iraqi government, as I said to Prime Minister Maliki yesterday, to secure their release and we will do everything within our power to work with all those who are in a position to help us release these hostages," he said.

All About Iraq WarGordon BrownThe Times of London

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