Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Sunday, 3 January 2010

Ex-hostage 'delighted' to be freed

Peter Moore - picture taken Thursday 31 December 2009. Pic: FCO
Peter Moore's return to the UK had been veiled in secrecy

Freed hostage Peter Moore has said he is "delighted" to be released from captivity and looking forward to "getting to know" his family again.

The 36-year-old computer expert from Lincoln, who was kidnapped in Iraq in May 2007, landed at RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, on Friday evening.

Mr Moore said he was looking forward to "catching up" on what he had missed over the past two-and-a-half years.

He is also expected to start a period of counselling and medical care.

In a statement released through the Foreign Office, Mr Moore appealed for "space and time" with his family.

He said: "I am obviously delighted to have returned to the UK and to have been reunited with my family.

"I am looking forward to spending the coming days and weeks catching up on all the things I've missed over the past two and a half years."

Mr Moore's family said they were "thrilled" to have him back safely.

Earlier, a Foreign Office spokesman said the former hostage would be "easing back into life", and that no fixed plan for his return to normality and the debriefing process had been agreed.

Mr Moore, who was taken hostage along with his four British bodyguards while working in Baghdad for a US firm, was released on 30 December 2009.

During his period of captivity, three of the bodyguards were killed. A fourth is thought to be dead.

'Catching up'

Mr Moore's return to the UK was veiled in secrecy following a request for privacy from his family.

Asking the media for space, his designated next-of-kin - stepfather Fran Sweeney and Fran's wife Pauline - said: "We would like to have time with Peter on our own."

They said they had "a lot of catching up to do".

BBC Middle East correspondent Jim Muir said Mr Moore's family wanted a "period of decompression" for him to "ease gently back into public life".

Private jet carrying Peter Moore back to UK
Peter Moore was flown home in a private jet

Following his release, Mr Moore has said he was subjected to "rough treatment" while in captivity but that he had been 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.

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, told the AFP news agency the hostage certainly had "spent part of the time, at the very least, in Iran", but the Foreign Office has said it has no evidence of this.

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

Kidnappers

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

The bodies of three of his bodyguards - Alec MacLachlan, 30, from Llanelli, South Wales, Jason Swindlehurst, 38, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, 39, originally from Glasgow - were passed to UK authorities last year.

The fourth bodyguard, Alan McMenemy, 34, from Glasgow, is also believed to have been killed.

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 have since been freed under the reconciliation process.

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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