British former detainees at the US military base Guantanamo Bay appealed on Thursday for the release of four Western peace campaigners held hostage and facing execution in Iraq.
Moazzam Begg, a Briton detained for nearly three years at the Guantanamo base in Cuba, said images of the hostages in orange jumpsuits reminded him of their time in detention.
The plea came after Britain issued a renewed appeal for the kidnappers to make contact.
Begg said in a statement on BBC television: "We came home to find that there were people who opposed their government in their brutal war waged against Afghanistan and Iraq and stood on the side of justice. And they were not Muslims."
Begg was one of the last four Britons to be repatriated from Guantanamo in January.
"It is our sincerest belief that Norman Kember, the 74-year-old Briton, and those with him are amongst those people, the many people, who opposed this war from the beginning and were only in Iraq to promote human rights for the oppressed," he said.
"Just like Sheikh Abu Qatada, we also hope that our words may encourage you to show mercy to these men and let them free," Begg said.
In an exceptional gesture, the British Foreign Office authorized Qatada, an Islamist with reputed al-Qaeda connections who is detained in Britain on security grounds, to record on Wednesday an appeal for the hostages' release.
The kidnappers of Kember, Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, and US national Tom Fox, 54, extended by 48 hours to today their deadline to kill them.
The four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) organization were abducted in Baghdad on Nov. 26 by a group calling itself the Brigades of the Swords of Right. It has threatened to kill them unless all detainees in US and Iraqi prisons are freed.
Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw earlier appealed to the abductors to make contact.
"As I have said before, if the kidnappers want to get in touch with us, we want to hear what they have to say. We have people in Iraq and the region, and they are ready to hear from the kidnappers," Straw said.
Straw's appeal did not include an explicit offer to open negotiations.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and