Page last updated at 20:53 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Iraq hostage Peter Moore tells of mock executions

Peter Moore: "We were in chains, shackled ... blindfolded"

Former British hostage Peter Moore has told for the first time how he was regularly beaten and subjected to mock executions after being seized in Iraq.

The 36-year-old computer expert from Lincoln returned to the UK in January after a two-and-a-half year ordeal.

There were "many, many times" he thought he would be killed, he said.

He recalled how on one occasion, his guards blindfolded him, put a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger while another gun was fired behind his back.

"I just thought I was dead. And then I realised I could still hear laughing, I was still handcuffed and that wasn't the case."

Candle tribute

Mr Moore was seized in Baghdad in May 2007 along with his four bodyguards.

The bodies of three of the guards were released to UK authorities last year, and the fourth guard is also believed to have been killed.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said that "from the very beginning, [Mr Moore's] captors viewed him as a civilian and the bodyguards, essentially, as disposable.

We were in chains, shackled, blindfolded, handcuffed, periodically beaten, water poured over us
Peter Moore

"They saw them as a nuisance, they were trained to protect him by force if necessary so they presented a potential threat to the captors."

The bodies of Alec MacLachlan, 30, from Llanelli, South Wales, Jason Swindlehurst, 38, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, 39, originally from Glasgow, were handed over last year.

A fourth bodyguard, Alan McMenemy, 34, from Glasgow, is also thought to have been killed.

Having lit four candles at Lincoln Cathedral for his fellow hostages on Tuesday, Mr Moore paid tribute to them and called for the immediate return of Mr McMenemy's body.

'Walking the dog'

"As far as I can see there's no reason to keep that," Mr Moore said.

"I'm very grateful to Jason, Jason, Alec and Alan, for the help and advice and the medical treatment I received following my abduction.

"Certainly without that help and advice I definitely wouldn't be stood here today."

He described his treatment at the hands of his captors in 2007 as "pretty harsh".

"We were in chains, shackled, blindfolded, handcuffed, periodically beaten, water poured over us.

Clockwise from top left: Alan McMenemy, Peter Moore,  Alec Maclachlan, Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell
The five hostages were taken captive by militants in May 2007

"In 2008 things got better. I was separated off from the others. In 2009 things were actually pretty good. Things improved a lot. I was out of the chains.

"I had a PlayStation and satellite TV, a laptop computer, en suite shower, toilet facilities.

"And ultimately I got released, so that was excellent."

Describing how he coped with his time in captivity, Mr Moore said he had pretended he "wasn't there".

"I used to close my eyes and think I was walking the dog for some reason and I used to think I was riding a motorcycle and hiking over the hills and things like that," he recalled.

"I also used to count dots on the wall and work out mathematical formulas."

Police debriefing

He also said he had not believed his captors in December when they told him he was to be released.

"I thought I was really going to go and be executed," Mr Moore said.

"The first time I really believed I was being released was when I stepped out of the vehicle and somebody from the Foreign Office walked up to me and said they were from the Foreign Office and they were there to take me home."

Our security correspondent said Mr Moore had spent the three weeks since his return to the UK being debriefed by the Metropolitan Police.

But as Mr Moore was separated from the other hostages in 2008, he is unable to provide much information about what happened to them, our correspondent added.

He said Mr Moore had been unaware in his final months as a hostage that his fellow captives had been killed, and it was his civilian status which meant he was ultimately to survive his period of captivity.

There has been speculation since his release that Mr Moore was held in Iran during part of his captivity, but this has never been verified and the Foreign Office has said it has "no evidence to substantiate claims of [Iran's] direct involvement in this case".

Mr Moore said he believed he was held in Iraq's Baghdad and Basra and moved from house to house every three months.

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