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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Berg father 'had to let son go'
By Becky Branford
BBC News Online

The father of Nick Berg, an American worker beheaded in Iraq, has said he was aware his son faced grave danger there but felt unable to try to prevent him from going.

Michael Berg, father of Nick Berg who was beheaded in Iraq
Michael Berg campaigned against wars before and after Nick's death
Michael Berg told BBC News Online his son "was a man and he did what he felt he had to do... I didn't try to stop him".

Although he felt great anger at his son's killers, he said, he understood they "want and deserve change" and were simply "terribly misguided".

Michael Berg repeated his criticisms of US policy in the Middle East and accused the American media of capitalising on his sorrow but refusing to air his political views.

Nick, 26, was beheaded by Iraqi insurgents who said they were avenging the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail by US soldiers.

His death was shown on a gruesome video broadcast on an Arabic website.

'He didn't come back'

Michael Berg, a retired remedial teacher, said he had felt compelled to allow his son to work in Iraq, despite the dangers.

Nick Berg attending an engineering conference in Pennsylvania in October 2003
Nick Berg went to Iraq as an independent businessman
"I let him know that I worried and cared, and that I expected him to come back, and he did - the first time. But he didn't the second time," he said.

He said in spite of his anger, he understood the grievances of his son's killers. But, he said, he wished they would emulate the non-violent model of protest used by Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, "who freed an entire group of people without themselves shedding a single drop of blood".

Mr Berg - who has previously blamed the Bush administration for his son's death - said he had always held anti-war views and his opinions had not changed.

He said he was "doing what I have always done. I'm a retired person who protests the war whenever given the opportunity."

Ironically, "the opportunities given to me since my son was murdered have grown tremendously. I feel an obligation to take advantage of them. I don't feel at all ashamed for doing it," he said.

But Mr Berg complained that the US media "won't let me give my story".

'Censored'

In an interview with one US network, he alleged, he had been cut off when he tried to express his political views after describing the personal horror of his experience.

Was Saddam Hussein a good man? It seems he was not. But that did not give us the right to go in there and invade a country, and insert our own torturers in place of his
Michael Berg

He said he had been asked to remove a T-shirt reading Bring the Troops Home Now before going on air. When he refused, Mr Berg alleged, producers deliberately limited camera angles to a headshot to avoid publicising his anti-war stance.

Mr Berg repeated his assault on US policy in the Middle East, saying people there were "not fooled" by the handover of power that took place ahead of schedule on Monday.

He insisted the invasion of Iraq should never have taken place.

"We have invaded a sovereign nation. We have taken away the government that they had," he said.

"Was it a good government? I don't know - it doesn't seem so. Was Saddam Hussein a good man? It seems like he was not.

"But that did not give us the right to go in there and invade a country, and insert our own torturers in place of his, and insert our own military in place of his, and insert our own ideas about government in place of what was there before."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Nick Berg's father, Michael Berg
"This war will end sooner... if you get Bush out"



SEE ALSO:
Berg's father at anti-war rally
30 Jun 04  |  London
Resignation call over Iraq murder
17 May 04  |  Middle East
US pledges to catch Berg killers
12 May 04  |  Middle East
Slain US hostage was 'idealist'
12 May 04  |  Middle East


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