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Freed Iraq hostage Kember back in Britain

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Mar 26 (Reuters) Freed Christian peace campaigner Norman Kember urged people to think about the suffering of ordinary Iraqis as he flew home to Britain after being held hostage in Iraq for four months.

''There is a real sense in which you are interviewing the wrong person,'' the 74-year-old retired professor of medical ethics told reporters at London's Heathrow Airport yesterday.

''It is the ordinary people of Iraq that you should be talking to -- the people who have suffered so much over many years and still await the stable and just society that they deserve.'' Kember was rescued by special forces along with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) colleagues Harmeet Sooden and Jim Loney -- both Canadians -- from an unguarded house in a Sunni insurgent area to the west of Baghdad on Thursday They were found manacled but unhurt.

''I now need to reflect on my experience -- was I foolhardy or rational? -- and also to enjoy freedom in peace and quiet,'' Kember said.

Kember's wife has described her husband's decision to go to Baghdad as ''silly'', but said she accepted the need he felt to be active in his pacifism before he got too old.

A fourth hostage, American Tom Fox, was found shot dead two weeks ago.

Looking tired and frail, but speaking in a firm voice, Kember thanked the soldiers who had rescued him ''I do not believe that a lasting peace is achieved by armed force, but I pay tribute to their courage and thank those who played a part in my release,'' he said in a statement.

British Army chief Michael Jackson had criticised Kember for apparently failing to thank the soldiers who freed him and his colleagues.

Sitting next to his wife Pat, 72, Kember said he was not ready to talk about his time in captivity.

Sooden, 32, and Loney, 41, headed to Baghdad airport on Saturday to begin their journey home, a colleague said.

A lifelong committed Christian, Kember had protested against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and had gone to Baghdad to spread his message of peace.

CPT emerged in 1989 out of the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quaker Friends Society and the Church of Brethren to send teams of Christians trained in techniques of non-violent action to conflicts around the world.

It has had a presence in Iraq since 2001.

Reuters PDS VP0440

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