Freed Kember on way home after 119 days

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The Independent Online

Norman Kember, the freed hostage, was on his way home from Iraq last night. Mr Kember, 74, left the British embassy in Baghdad where he had been taken and boarded a British military transport plane, apparently bound for Kuwait.

News of his departure, 119 days after he was kidnapped, was confirmed by members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Iraqi capital. Mr Kember had been in Iraq on a mission with the group when he was kidnapped.

Peggy Gish, a Christian Peacemaker Teams colleague, told a news conference in Baghdad that Mr Kember and his two Canadian colleagues had not been tortured or abused by their captors.

For much of the time they were not tied up and the kidnappers had provided Mr Kember with medication for an illness; he suffers from high blood pressure and an aneurysm.

Ms Gish said: "Much of the time they were not bound, they were not handcuffed they were free to walk around in the confines of the building they were in.

"Right before the intervention they were bound then their captors left the building and so they were alone when the multinational forces came."

She said Mr Kember and his colleagues were determined to keep on helping the people of Iraq in some way. "They still seem very dedicated to their work for the Iraqi people," she said.

"I don't know whether it will be here or in another country but they are still very committed to justice for all ethnic groups."

Ms Gish said their Christian group had not had any direct contact with the kidnappers before the hostages were rescued by the SAS-led team, which also included Canadian, Iraqi and US special forces, backed by Black Hawk helicopters and a Predator drone eye-in-the-sky.

"We just know they made some political demands to the countries of the three men, that's all we know," Ms Gish added.

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