Page last updated at 21:04 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Iraq hostages' families appeal for release

Peter Moore
Peter Moore was seen in a video released by the kidnappers in March

The families of two British men who were kidnapped in Iraq in 2007 have made a Christmas appeal for their release.

Peter Moore, an IT consultant from Lincoln, and Alan McMenemy, a security guard from Glasgow, were seized at the Iraqi Ministry of Finance in Baghdad.

Mr McMenemy's wife urged the kidnappers to show compassion at Christmas.

Three other men seized at the same time were later shot dead. Their bodies were released and returned to the UK.

The bodies of Jason Swindlehurst, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, from Glasgow, were flown back to the UK in June.

The body of Alec MacLachlan, 30, of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, was returned in September.

In the summer, British officials expressed fears that Mr McMenemy might no longer be alive.

But his wife, Rosalyn, said she still had hope, and made a fresh appeal to his captors.

"The children are quite excited about Christmas but there's always the fact that Alan is not there.

"My son Luke did ask Santa to bring his daddy home for Christmas. That's what he'd like for Christmas," she said.

Show of humanity?

Clockwise from top left: Alan McMenemy, Peter Moore,  Alec Maclachlan, Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell
The five hostages were seized by men disguised as police officers

The step-parents of Peter Moore also made an appeal.

Stepfather Fran Sweeney said this year's funerals of the three killed hostages - which relatives of the the remaining hostages attended - had been an awful shock.

But he said he hoped the kidnappers would show humanity and allow the two other Britons to return home next year.

Mr Moore's stepmother Pauline Sweeney said the British government had put a lot of effort into trying to get the men freed.

"It's very sensitive but I want to assure everybody there is an awful lot being done behind the scenes."

She appealed to the kidnappers to show compassion and release the men, who were "totally non-political".

But she told Channel 4 News it was "very difficult to stay positive".

In July, Gordon Brown said he was committed to securing the release of Mr Moore, who the Foreign Office say may still be alive.

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent James Robbins said both families had been through a "terrible year" and were desperate for news.

"There's been the occasional video, the occasional proof of life, but very little news, very little certainty - other than the terrible certainty of the deaths of three of the hostages," he said.

Mr Moore had been working for US management consultancy Bearingpoint in Iraq. The other men were security contractors employed to guard him.

The group was captured at Baghdad's Ministry of Finance in May 2007 by about 40 men disguised as Iraqi policemen.

They are understood to belong to an obscure militia known as Islamic Shia Resistance, which has demanded the release of up to nine of their associates held in US military custody since early 2007.

This has been Britain's longest running hostage crisis for nearly 20 years.

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