Emotional Kember tells of 'unreal' experience

Last updated at 12:23 15 April 2006

Freed British hostage Norman Kember has given an emotional account of his ordeal in Iraq.

He wept as he told BBC Radio 4 how he was released by the SAS on March 23 after four months in captivity.

The 74-year-old peace activist, from Pinner, north west London, said: "It was so sudden. First of all, because they were British, they wanted to know if Mr Kember was there.

"I was at that stage chained to the door. They said, 'Oh, it's a bolt-cutter job', and they cut the padlock and released me."

The committed Christian said he and his three fellow hostages were kidnapped when they were in a car with a driver and a translator.

"We were just driving out towards the main road, when a car stopped in front of us, and out popped four men with guns, pushed out the driver and the translator, and took over the car. They told, I think Jim, to lie on the floor, and pointed guns at him, and off we were driven."

Asked how he felt at that moment, he said: "It was just unreal, that's what kidnapping's all about."

Three or four of the hostages used to sit handcuffed together for about 12 hours a day, he said.

"We faced a window which was generally closed, windows with curtains over, so it was dim light in the room."

In the morning a window would be opened to let some fresh air in - "and we would see a bit of sunlight".

One of the hostages, 54-year-old American Tom Fox, was murdered. His body was found with bullet wounds, dumped near a railway line in Baghdad on March 9. There was evidence he had been beaten.

Mr Kember and two Canadian hostages, James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, were freed in a multi-national military operation involving the SAS and other forces.

The four westerners were seized on November 26 while on a visit to support the Canada-based international peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams.

The previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigade claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

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