Father of Scot held hostage in Iraq attacks Foreign Office handling of crisis
THE father of a Scottish man held hostage in Iraq yesterday made an emotional plea to his son's captors and criticised the Foreign Office's handling of the crisis.
Asking that his surname be kept secret, Dennis, 57, spoke out for the first time about his ordeal since his son Allan was kidnapped almost a year ago. He said he felt frustrated by the British government's lack of response and claimed he had not been kept properly informed about his son's situation.
Allan, a married father of two from Glasgow, was abducted along with four other British colleagues at Baghdad's foreign ministry on May 29, while working as a security guard for a Canadian security firm.
The kidnapping has received less publicity than other high-profile hostile crises, such as the abductions of Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan, because the Foreign Office has imposed a media blackout.
Hassan and Bigley were murdered by their captors, and the Foreign Office is hoping that by starving the kidnappers of publicity, it will increase the chances of securing a safe release. But Dennis said he had decided to break his silence because he felt the Foreign Office was not doing enough, and he contrasted the Government's stance to what he saw as more pro-active steps being taken by certain members of the clergy of the Church of England.
On Friday, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, recorded a controversial video appeal to the kidnappers, in both English and Arabic, which addressed the abductors as "honourable men" and "men of faith", and called for the Britons to be freed.
And Canon Andrew White, Lord Carey's former Middle East envoy and now Anglican chaplain to Iraq, has been working on the ground to secure the captives' release.
Dennis said: "Basically, the Foreign Office doesn't seem to be coming up with anything that I can see is any good. I realise that it can't tell us everything that is going on, but it seems like a long time since we had any real information."
But a Foreign Office spokeswoman defended its approach, saying it had been in close touch with the family throughout the crisis. She said it was working hard to secure the captives' release, but that its efforts had to remain invisible. She said: "Our primary concern is the safe release of the hostages – that has been made clear from the very start. There is a process that we've been following and we're doing everything we can, but this has been out of the media spotlight.
"This is a very delicate process and we have to make sure that nothing we do jeopardises the safety of the hostages."
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