Hostage family issues Baghdad leaflet appeal

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The Independent Online

Thousands of leaflets carrying a personal appeal for help from the family of British hostage Ken Bigley have been distributed in Baghdad.

Thousands of leaflets carrying a personal appeal for help from the family of British hostage Ken Bigley have been distributed in Baghdad.

The Foreign Office said today that the British Embassy in the Iraqi capital had sent out 50,000 of the heartfelt written pleas from the 62-year-old's family.

They were distributed last night in the west of Baghdad where he was living when he was snatched along with two colleagues by kidnappers last Thursday.

Since then, Americans Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley have been beheaded in grisly executions and the footage released on the internet.

Personal television appeals for help and mercy from the Bigley family have been broadcast worldwide, and the leaflets reinforce their plea for information on his whereabouts, saying: "This is a personal appeal from a family whose son is missing. A family man called Ken Bigley is being held somewhere in your community.

"We are Ken's family. Ken's mother, brothers, wife and child love him dearly. We are appealing for your help.

"We are waiting for him to come home. We appeal to those who have taken him to please return him safely to us."

Former transport secretary Stephen Byers today indicated he thought Tony Blair was finding it hard to reconcile his personal feelings over the hostage crisis with his responsibilities as Prime Minister.

Asked on Live with Alastair Stewart on the ITV News Channel if he had a sense of how Mr Blair personally would be dealing with the situation, he said: "He's a very Christian person, a very religious man and he'll be wondering I think where God is at this moment.

"So he'll deal with it at a personal level but also he's got to deal with it as the leader of our country and those two are often very difficult to reconcile."

The ex-minister also praised the Bigley family for their "remarkable" courage, and backed the Government's "no negotiation" stance, saying: "I think all of us look at how that family is dealing with that situation and wonder how we would cope with it in these circumstances and I have to say they've been remarkable.

"The Prime Minister and the Government have made their position very clear, they don't do deals with hostage takers and I think people understand that position. But that doesn't take away from the human suffering that we're seeing in that family.

"Blair has to be very careful, very cautious. Any word out of place could be misinterpreted."

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