Gaddafi appeals for release of Bigley

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The Independent Online

The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi yesterday intervened in efforts to secure the release of the British hostage Kenneth Bigley by calling on his kidnappers to contact him.

In a statement released through Libya's official media, Colonel Gaddafi called for the Briton to be freed and offered to act as an intermediary to resolve any demands from the Tawhid and Jihad group.

The intervention came after Mr Bigley's brother Paul contacted one of the Libyan leader's sons to ask for help.

The British engineer has been held for 21 days after he was abducted from a Baghdad house with two Americans, who were subsequently beheaded.

Colonel Gaddafi said: "I ... appeal to the hostage's kidnappers, because the family has turned to us. We ask them to free this poor Briton.

"If they [the kidnappers] have conditions, inform us of them through any means."

Colonel Gaddafi qualified his remarks by calling on London and Washington to work with the Iraqi interim government to secure the release of female prisoners - the only demand made public by Tawhid and Jihad.

Paul Bigley, welcomed the assistance of Colonel Gaddafi saying: "He is a powerful voice to have on our side. We just want the nightmare to be over."

Libya has previously been credited with helping to release hostages held by Islamists.