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Update from CPT Hostages; Response to Torture Rumours

Excerpt from an article published on the CPT-webbsite

by Rev. Carol Rose and Dr. Doug Pritchard, CPT Co-Directors

Harmeet Sooden to the left and James Loney to the right

On Mar. 23 and 24, 2006, the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Baghdad met with colleagues Norman Kember, Jim Loney, and Harmeet Sooden who had just been freed after four months in captivity. The team found the men to be well, alert and in good spirits. The men asked many questions about their families, friends and colleagues at home and in Iraq. They have also begun to tell some parts of the story of their captivity – of efforts to stay physically fit, of periodic separations and reunions, of receiving a Christmas cake.

Learning about the death of Tom Fox after their release has been a particular burden. They said that Tom had taken leadership in encouraging the group right from the beginning of their captivity. They have not yet shared with CPT any details about their captors or the events which led to their freedom.

In a statement released to the Baghdad media on Mar. 24, they wrote, “We are deeply grateful to all those who worked and prayed for our release. We have no words to describe our feelings of great joy at being free again. Our heads are swirling and when we are ready we will talk to the media.”

The rest of us in CPT are also grateful to all those who worked nonviolently and who prayed fervently for their release – religious leaders and soldiers, team-mates and government officials, partner organizations, friends, family, children, women and men all over the world. We are particularly grateful that no one was injured in this rescue operation.

In order not to cause Tom Fox’s family further pain, and for the sake of accuracy, CPT urges that the media and everyone concerned refrain from repeating the rumour that Tom Fox was tortured.. Two CPTers, Rev. Carol Rose and Rich Meyer, viewed Tom’s body and did not see signs of torture. We also have reports from two additional independent sources who examined the body more thoroughly. They also did not find evidence of torture. Until the final autopsy report is released, we ask everyone to withhold their judgement.

Christian Peacemaker Teams will continue in the coming weeks, insofar as it is humanly possible, to report the truth of what we have witnessed and learned.