Adams renews Bigley appeal

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams appeared on Al-Jazeera

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has made a second plea for the release of British hostage Ken Bigley.

He made the appeal on Arab television on Thursday.

Mr Bigley was taken hostage on 16 September by the hardline Tawhid and Jihad group along with the two American colleagues in Iraq who were beheaded a few days later.

Appearing live on Al-Jazeera television from a Belfast studio, Mr Adams said: "I appeal for his release on the grounds that he is an Irish citizen.

"His mother is from Ireland and the majority of people in Ireland are against the war in Iraq."

He said Sinn Fein backed the right of the Iraqi people to decide their own future.

"People on this island have been watching closely what has happened and have been taken by the plight of Mr Bigley.

"I am not here to pontificate, preach or interfere but I believe the cause of the people holding Mr Bigley would be better served by them being magnanimous."

Irish ancestry

The Sinn Fein leader said he wanted to see the release of all hostages in Iraq.

However, he said was making a special request for Mr Bigley's freedom because he was an Irish citizen.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Ireland had granted a passport to Mr Bigley after his family appealed for help from the neutral country.

Mr Bigley can claim Irish ancestry through his Dublin-born mother.

His family hope that by stressing his Irish connections, his kidnappers will be persuaded to release him.

Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said he was happy to agree to the family's request and hoped "it will contribute to the efforts to secure his release".

Mr Adams said he had been in contact with officials from Libya, Jordan and the Palestinian authority to see what could be done to help Mr Bigley's cause.

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