Briton released from captivity in Iraq

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Peter Moore, one of five British men taken hostage in Iraq in May 2007 has been released alive from captivity. Mr. Moore, an IT consultant was seized in Baghdad in May 2007, was in good health and ?absolutely delighted at his release?. The World's Laura Lynch reports from London.

KATY CLARK: There is some good news out of Iraq today. A British computer consultant held hostage there for two and a half years has just been freed. Peter Moore was turned over to Iraqi authorities this morning in Baghdad. He's now believed to be the only survivor of a group of five British men who were abducted in May 2007. The World's Laura Lynch reports from London.

LAURA LYNCH: Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced Moore's release today just after speaking to him in what Miliband called an emotional phone call.

DAVID MILIBAND: Peter is in good health despite many months of captivity. He is undergoing careful medical checks, and he's going to be reunited with his family as soon as possible back in the U.K.

LYNCH: Moore was working for an American consulting firm in Baghdad when he was kidnapped along with his four British bodyguards outside Iraq's Finance Ministry. The abductors released a video of Moore in July 2008.

PETER MOORE: I've been held here for nearly eight months now. I miss my family very much. I live in Lincoln in England. I just want to get out of here.

LYNCH: Earlier this year, the bodies of three of the other hostages, Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Cresswell, and Alec MacLachlan were returned to Britain. While the British official believed the fourth bodyguard, Alan McMenemy, had also been killed, they held out hope that Moore was still alive. So did his family. Today, Pauline Sweeney told the BBC's Frank Gardner she was overjoyed to speak to her stepson.

PAULINE SWEENEY: He's sounding very well. You know, very upbeat, cracking jokes, couldn't believe how much we'd been doing for him, can't wait to see us, and likewise we can't wait to see him. I don't think it will really dawn on us until we actually see him to be honest.

FRANK GARDNER: Did he or anybody else give any idea of why he's suddenly been released like this so unexpectedly?

SWEENEY: No, to be honest, he said when they came into him this morning he thought he was going out to a bullet in his head.

LYNCH: David Miliband says Britain didn't make any substantive concessions to secure Moore's release. But Miliband was less direct when asked whether the Iraqi government bargained with the kidnappers.

MILIBAND: There is a process of political reconciliation going on in Iraq separate from the fact that British hostages are released. What I believe to be the case is that without that process of political reconciliation then we wouldn't have had the release today. It was Iraqi led I think is the best thing to say.

LYNCH: As part of the reconciliation process, American forces have been handing over prisoners to the Iraqi authorities. BBC sources say one Iraqi prisoner now freed was key to securing Moore's release today. However it happened, Pauline Sweeney says the British government deserves credit for the way it handled her stepson's case, no matter the long stretches of silence.

SWEENEY: The silence and the lack of publicity did come from the insurgents to begin with, and you know, you obviously do as you're told, don't you? I think there was an awful lot done. It's just that people didn't realize what was being done because it was sensitive information that we couldn't share. And so, because they didn't hear about it, they just assumed that they were forgotten hostages and that nothing was being done, which frustrated me a lot actually.

LYNCH: Today's celebrations are tinged with sadness for the fate of the other four men especially for the parents of Alan McMenemy who still don't know what's happened to their son. For The World, I'm Laura Lynch in London.