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1991: Beirut hostage John McCarthy freed
John McCarthy, Britain's longest-held hostage in Lebanon, has been set free after more than five years in captivity.

The militant group, Islamic Jihad, which had had been holding the journalist announced his release in a statement delivered to a news agency in the capital, Beirut.

The statement described Mr McCarthy as an "envoy" and said he had been given a letter to deliver in person to the UN Secretary General.

Mr McCarthy - who was abducted in April 1986 - was one of about 11 Westerners believed to be held by Islamic Jihad or other militant groups.

Speaking at a news conference in Damascus, Syria where he was flown after his release, Mr McCarthy thanked those who had campaigned on his behalf.

He urged them to carry on working for the release of those still in captivity.

"Keep up the efforts to end the ordeal of my fellow hostages and all those who are held in similar conditions in the region," he said.

Mr McCarthy said that American hostages Terry Anderson and Tom Sutherland and Briton Terry Waite had been in good health and spirits when he left them two days ago.

Whatever strength he had found to endure the last few years had come from his fellow hostages, he added.

In Britain Mr McCarthy's friend, Jill Morrell, who led a campaign to get him freed said she was "ecstatic" at his release.

"There were times when it seemed like it would take forever and there were times when it seemed like it had been going on for an eternity but we all always knew that John would be released one day," Miss Morrell said.

The ordeal of captivity was over but John McCarthy now faced the new ordeal of re-entering the world which would be like a "bright glaring light" to him, she added.

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John McCarthy
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