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Freed Iraq hostage arrives home in UK

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Peter Moore's family speaks
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • British hostage Peter Moore arrives home in UK after years captive in Iraq
  • Group called The Islamic Shiite Resistance of Iraq claimed to have been behind Moore's kidnapping
  • IT expert one of five Britons seized along with four security guards in 2007
  • Bodies of three security guards recovered; fourth is also feared dead

London, England (CNN) -- Former British hostage Peter Moore, freed this week after two-and-a-half years in Iraq, arrived in Britain on Friday, the British Foreign Office said.

"Peter Moore arrived back in the UK this evening. An International SOS flight from Jordan landed at RAF Brize Norton," a Foreign Office spokesman said. "Peter was met by Foreign Office staff and will be reunited with his family later."

Brize Norton, the Royal Air Force's largest air base, is in Oxfordshire, England, about 65 miles (105 km) west-northwest of London.

Moore's parents, Fran and Pauline Sweeney, issued a statement saying, "We are thrilled to have Peter back safely. We have a lot of catching up to do and would like to have time with Peter on our own. We would now ask the media to give us space and privacy."

Moore, a computer expert held by Shiite Muslim insurgents in Iraq since May 2007, was freed Wednesday in good health, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

A little known-group calling itself The Islamic Shiite Resistance of Iraq claimed to have been behind Moore's kidnapping. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said government officials were not involved in the talks that led to Moore's release, but added that the decision to free him "is part of the national reconciliation program" aimed at persuading Iraq's remaining armed factions to lay down their arms.

Video: British hostage released
RELATED TOPICS
  • Iraq
  • United Kingdom

Al-Dabbagh said the goal is to persuade those factions still taking up arms against the U.S.-backed Iraqi government to "give up all violence and to be part of the political process through the normal rule of law here in Iraq."

Moore, who worked for U.S.-based consulting firm BearingPoint, was kidnapped amid the sectarian warfare and insurgent attacks that ravaged Iraq in the years following the U.S. invasion in 2003.

He was one of five Britons seized in May 2007 from the Iraqi finance ministry by people posing as security forces and government workers on official business. The other four men were guards working for the Canadian security firm GardaWorld.

The bodies of security guards Jason Creswell and Jason Swindlehurst were handed over in June 2007, while Alec MacLachlan's body was returned in September 2009. Miliband said the fourth guard, Alan McMenemy, is thought dead.

Moore's father, Graeme Moore, told CNN from the English city of Leicester that he was "absolutely overjoyed" at his son's release.

"When I saw the breaking news on the television, I went through the ceiling with joy," he said.

Moore's kidnappers released at least three videos allegedly showing the hostages.

In December 2007, the Arabic language TV station Al-Arabiya showed a video of a man who identified himself as Jason. The hostage-takers demanded in the video that all British troops be withdrawn from Iraq within 10 days or they would "kill the hostage ... as an initial warning."

In February 2008, a video showed Moore pleading with the British government to agree to a prisoner swap.

"It's a simple exchange -- release those that they want so we can go home," he said. "It's as simple as that. It is a simple exchange of people. This is all they want, just have their people released."

The British Embassy in Iraq received a third video in March, but it has not disclosed its contents.

The United States has been awaiting the release of almost a dozen of its citizens listed as missing in Iraq, some for as many as six years, U.S. State Department spokesman Darby Holladay said in an e-mail to CNN.

Though the U.S. government has called for their release and information on their status, Holladay said, the government's policy is to not make concessions to terrorists or hostage-takers, including concessions such as prisoner release or ransom.

 
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