New plea for British hostage

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Anti-war activists have issued a new appeal to kidnappers in Iraq for the release of the British hostage Norman Kember.

They suggested that freeing the 74-year-old and three fellow peace workers seized along with him would boost the campaign against the US and British occupation of the country.

Their appeal comes days after a new video was shown of the group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, which claims responsibility for the kidnappings. The video spoke of a "last chance" for US and Iraqi authorities to release Iraqi prisoners in order to save the hostages.

In a statement, the British Anti-War Movement, comprising the Stop the War Coalition, the Muslim Association of Britain and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "Having seen the latest images which show the hostages still alive, the British Anti-War Movement reiterates its message that the four men, including 74-year-old Mr Kember, are true friends of the Iraqi people having stood firm against the war, invasion and occupation of Iraq. By releasing them, the cause of liberating Iraq would be boosted immensely."

The statement expressed sympathy with the "appalling conditions" suffered by thousands of Iraqi detainees, and with the demands for their release.

It said the majority of the British people considered themselves friends of Iraq and disagreed with the Government's policy.