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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Vicar flees Baghdad after threats
Canon Andrew White
Pamphlets accused the cleric of being "no more than a spy"
A vicar who has been working to secure the release of five British hostages in Iraq has fled the country after being denounced as a spy.

Canon Andrew White, who ran Iraq's only Anglican church, left Baghdad amid fears for his safety.

The five Britons' abductors reportedly threatened to kill them unless the vicar stopped trying to find them.

The captives, four security guards and a consultant, were abducted on 29 May, from the finance ministry in Baghdad.

They were seized by insurgents disguised as Iraqi police.

'Serious threat'

Canon White left Baghdad after pamphlets dropped in Shia areas of the Iraqi capital reportedly branded the vicar as "no more than a spy".

An unconfirmed report in London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi said the leaflets accused Mr White of trying to broker deals against the kidnappers.

Due to a serious security threat Canon Andrew White has left Iraq
Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

The vicar, who was based at St George's Church in Baghdad, arrived back in Britain on Wednesday morning.

The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, of which Mr White is executive director, confirmed he had left Iraq because of a "serious security threat".

In Baghdad, the British Embassy confirmed that the vicar, who was previously based at Coventry Cathedral, had been working on the release of the five British hostages.

Mohammed Shokat, head of the political section at the British Embassy, confirmed Mr White's departure, saying: "He has left Iraq because of a security threat."

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