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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 17:50 GMT
Kember may still be freed - envoy
Norman Kember, on the latest video shown on al-Jazeera
Norman Kember has been filmed blindfolded and shackled
An envoy who travelled to the Middle East to campaign for the release of British hostage Norman Kember in Iraq says he still hopes he will be freed.

Mr Kember, 74, and three colleagues were kidnapped in Baghdad last month by a group which threatened to kill them last Saturday if demands were not met.

There has been no news of the captives' fate since the deadline passed.

Anas Altikriti, of the Muslim Association of Britain, says the silence could be a good sign.

The likelihood is that had there been action taken against the hostages we would have heard about it by now
Anas Altikriti

Speaking from Jordan, where he has been campaigning for Mr Kember's release, Mr Altikriti said: "We are slightly more hopeful than we were on Saturday.

"The likelihood is that had there been action taken against the hostages we would have heard about it by now."

He said the captors could be "looking for a way out without losing face".

Or else the group, which calls itself the Swords of Truth, could be waiting for the start of Iraqi election to make their next move announcement, Mr Altikriti said.

"Whether they would use that to release the hostages - or otherwise, God forbid - we can't say," he added.

The hostage-takers are demanding the release of prisoners in Iraq.

Mr Altikriti, who plans to stay in Jordan until the end of the week, said it was vital to make the kidnappers aware that they would gain more support for their demands by freeing the hostages than by killing them.

Mr Kember, from Pinner, north-west London, was seized in Baghdad on 26 November along with Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, and an American Tom Fox, 54.

He had travelled to Iraq as a gesture of solidarity with the Christian Peacemaker team, a Canadian-based international peace group.

Voices from across the Muslim world have called for the hostages to be freed, including high profile terror suspect Abu Qatada, who made an appeal from his maximum security prison cell at Full Sutton jail, near York.




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