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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK
Kember speaks of 'stolen' months
Norman Kember, Pat Kember
Norman Kember was held for 117 days
Freed British hostage Norman Kember has spoken of how he had four months "stolen" from him during his 117 days in captivity in Iraq.

"The experience of being confined is desperate," Mr Kember, of north-west London, told the Baptist Times.

The 74-year-old also revealed how his captors had shown him a Christian DVD, about the life of Jesus.

Mr Kember was one of three peace activists rescued by troops from a house in Baghdad last week.

A fourth, American Tom Fox, 54, was found shot dead on 9 March.

'Life is precious'

"The experience of being confined is desperate. Not going outside for four months - it's having that time stolen," Mr Kember told the newspaper.

"I'd want to remind your readers how precious life is, and how precious the sight of a green tree would be when you're deprived of it."

He also said the hostages' treatment had been varied.

I'm alright - Pat was surprised at how fit I am
Norman Kember

He told how one night their captors had taken them downstairs and "sat us in front of the TV, and showed us the life of Jesus on DVD in Arabic".

"But these are the people who shot Tom Fox in the head. People are very complex," he said.

"Also, I think they wanted to keep us happy, so that we wouldn't try any desperate escape."

The retired professor described his physical condition as "moderately fit and well".

"I'm alright - Pat was surprised at how fit I am," he said.

In a brief telephone call he also underlined his praise for those who rescued him, after being criticised by the head of the British Army, Gen Sir Mike Jackson, for a "seeming" lack of gratitude to his SAS rescuers.

He said: "I'm very grateful to them for rescuing me. And our diplomatic service was super. I am full of praise for them."

In the article, Mr Kember also thanked the Muslim community for their support during his ordeal.

Mark Woods, editor of The Baptist Times, said because Mr Kember was a Baptist "we felt particular loyalty to him and he wanted to acknowledge that".

Relationships

Jonathan Bartley, director of think tank Ekklesia which works with Christian Peacemaker teams, said the hostages appeared to have built some kind of relationship with their captors.

He said: "From Norman's comments it would appear that the kidnapping was not religiously motivated as some have suggested.

"Christian peacemakers are trained to build up relationships with those who may be seen as enemies."

Mr Kember was one of four westerners seized on 26 November while on a visit to support the Canada-based international peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

Two Canadians, James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, were freed at the same time as Mr Kember.




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