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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 22:33 GMT 23:33 UK
22 September 2004
Gavin Esler

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Tonight's programme was presented by Gavin Esler and covered the following stories:

Iraq hostage crisis

We interviewed the Iraqi foreign minister as a video posted on an Islamist website showed UK hostage Ken Bigley pleading for Tony Blair's help.

Hopes for his release were raised on Tuesday when the Iraqi interim government announced that they would release two female scientists, apparently ceding to demands from the kidnappers.

But then the Americans - who have physical and legal custody of the women - said neither would be released imminently.

Adding to the confusion, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari - during an exclusive interview for Newsnight - claimed there are "no immediate plans to release" the "high value" female prisoner Dr Rihab Rashid Taha, nicknamed Dr Germ.

Mr Zebari also told us it was his government's "position not to negotiate with terrorists or to cave in to their demands".

Now it is not only the life of a British hostage on the line, but the credibility and independence of the interim government

Charles Kennedy for PM?

The Liberal Democrats are riding high in the polls, but are they really trusted to govern? We asked their leader Charles Kennedy whether his party can ever be more than the home of the protest voter.

Yusaf Islam

Yusaf Islam, better known as 70's pop star Cat Stevens, is on his way back from the US after being turned back by immigration officials.

Apparently his name is on a security "watch list". Islam is now a senior figure amongst British Muslims and his treatment has infuriated many here.

Why has such a high-profile figure who has denounced violence of all forms and been feted by the likes of Nelson Mandela and Tony Blair been targeted by the Americans ?

Going for a song...

US companies are giving away free iPods. Too good to believe?

Newsnight is broadcast every weekday on BBC Two at 2230 in the UK.

You can also watch the show from this website, either live or on demand for 24 hours after originally broadcast, by clicking on the latest programme button.

Newsnight's Tom Carver
reported on US companies that are giving away free iPods.

UK hostage's 'release sabotaged'
23 Sep 04  |  Middle East



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