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1992: Iraq jails 'lost' Briton

Iraq has sentenced a British man to seven years in jail for what it called "illegal entry" into the country.

Paul Ride, a catering manager from east London, was working in Kuwait before he disappeared two months ago.

Last week the Red Cross tracked Mr Ride, 33, to a jail cell in Baghdad.

Diplomats believe he may have got lost in the desert and accidentally driven across the Iraqi border.

The Foreign Office has protested to Iraq about the severity of the sentence and demanded Mr Ride's release.

Efforts to gain his freedom have been hampered by the fact that Britain no longer has an embassy in Baghdad.

Releases

The Briton's case is being handled by the Russians who still have diplomatic representation in Iraq.

They were successful last year in gaining the release of a British businessman, Ian Richter, who had served five and a half years in an Iraqi jail.

Another Briton, Daphne Parrish, was also released in 1991.

But her companion, Iranian-born journalist Farzad Bazoft, was executed in 1990 after being convicted of spying.

Two days ago Mr Ride's wife, Julie, appealed to the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, to free her husband.

A spokesman from Mr Ride's employer in Kuwait, John Gibbs, said everybody at the company was "very shocked" by what had happened to Mr Ride.

In Context
Soon after Mr Ride was sentenced, another Briton, Michael Wainwright, was jailed for 10 years after cycling across the Iraqi border.

The following June, Simon Dunn a Briton resident in Kuwait was jailed for eight years for illegal entry into Iraq.

There were suspicions the British men were being held as "human shields" to deter attack from Britain and the US - a tactic employed unsuccessfully by Iraq before the Gulf War.

Michael Wainwright and Paul Ride shared a jail cell for much of their imprisonment. All three Britons were released in December 1993.


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