Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Friday, 1 January 2010

Iraq hostage Peter Moore to return to Britain

Peter Moore - picture taken Thursday 31 December 2009. Pic: FCO
Peter Moore is due to return to the UK to be reunited with his family

Freed British hostage Peter Moore is "likely" to leave Baghdad later for the UK, the Foreign Office has said.

Mr Moore, from Lincoln, was freed on Wednesday after being held hostage for two-and-a-half years.

Three of the four bodyguards he was captured with in Iraq have been killed. The fourth man is thought to be dead.

BBC Middle East correspondent Jim Muir said Mr Moore's family wanted him to be given the opportunity to "ease gently back into public life."

He said the family wanted a "period of decompression" for him and that officials were "clamping down" on details about his movements.

Mr Moore, 36, from Lincoln, spent New Year's Eve at the embassy in Baghdad "quietly," our correspondent said.

"I don't think there was any great revelry or celebration going on. It was a very quiet low-key evening for them, but he will be moving on [Friday]."

Following his release, the computer expert has said he was subjected to "rough treatment" while in captivity but treated well in the final six months.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said Mr Moore had told his family that from June he had effectively been placed under house arrest, with en suite facilities, access to satellite TV, a laptop - though not online - and a Playstation.

Bodies returned

The Guardian newspaper has claimed Mr Moore and his bodyguards were taken to a camp in Iran within a day of being seized.

General David Petraeus, the former US commander in Iraq, US regional military commander told the AFP news agency that the hostage certainly had "spent part of the time, at the very least, in Iran".

He added: "That is based on an intelligence assessment, and obviously I've not had a chance to hear it, certainly not to talk to him, but nor to hear anything that he has said."

But an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman described claims that the abduction had been masterminded by the elite Revolutionary Guards as "baseless".

The UK Foreign Office said it had seen the "speculation" about Iran's role in the kidnappings.

However a spokesman added: "Iran of course has an influence in Iraq, but we have no evidence to substantiate claims of direct involvement in this case."

Deal denied

The bodies of Mr Moore's British guards Jason Swindlehurst, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, of Glasgow, were returned to the UK in June 2009, followed by that of Alec MacLachlan, of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, in September.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said British officials believe bodyguard Alan McMenemy, from Glasgow, is probably also dead and has called for the immediate release of his body.

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

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

Several had already been handed to the Iraqi government and some had since been freed under the reconciliation process.

And Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asaib al-Haq, or the League of Righteousness, was transferred from US to Iraqi custody shortly before the release of Mr Moore.

But the Foreign Office said Mr Moore had not been released as part of any prisoner exchange scheme.



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