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1991: Church envoy Waite freed in Beirut

VIDEO : Tears of joy for Terry Waite

Church envoy Terry Waite has been freed by the Islamic extremists who kidnapped him in Beirut in 1987.

Mr Waite, the envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, successfully negotiated the release of several Westerners held in Beirut before he was also taken captive.

He was released with an American academic, Thomas Sutherland who was seized in 1985.

Their captors, Islamic Jihad, broke the news in a brief note to an international news agency in the Lebanese capital.

Terry Waite was the last British captive in Lebanon following the release of journalist John McCarthy in August and 77-year-old Jackie Mann in September.

At a press conference in Damascus, Syria, he told reporters the kidnappers had promised other Western hostages would be released soon.


"The prayers of so many people have been answered today "

Dr George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury

Mr Waite said his captors had told him they would free the remaining three American hostages - Joseph Cicippio, Alan Steen and Terry Anderson - by the end of the month.

His captors had apologised for kidnapping him and admitted hostage taking served no useful purpose, Mr Waite added.

Thomas Sutherland told the conference they had seen Terry Anderson - the longest-held hostage - just before their release.

Mr Sutherland said: ''We left Terry Anderson about three or four hours ago in Lebanon and he is no longer chained to the wall, thank God, but he is still in a room that has very little fresh air and no daylight whatsoever."

The release of Terry Waite and Thomas Sutherland means there are now five Western hostages left in Beirut - three Americans and two Germans.

After the release of Mr Waite and Mr Sutherland were confirmed bells rang out at St Bride's Church, in Fleet Street, London, where vigils have been held on behalf of Mr Waite and other hostages.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said he was "delighted" at the news.

''The prayers of so many people have been answered today and we thank God for news of his release,'' Dr Carey said.


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