BAGHDAD, (AP) – A Shiite extremist group on Monday discounted claims from its former hostage that he was mistreated, presenting a video taken during his two year captivity showing the Briton exercising and playing with a child.
Peter Moore and his four bodyguards were taken hostage outside the Finance Ministry in Baghdad in May 2007 by men wearing uniforms. After more than two years in captivity, Moore was freed last December and returned home to Britain.
Moore told British media he was tortured, doused with water, hung by his arms from a door and at one point subjected to a mock execution.
The 40-second video depicts Peter Moore counting prayer beads while lying on a mattress inside a simple room with a dirt floor. He is also shown watching TV, playing with a small child, eating an orange, writing, and exercising on a treadmill.
Moore’s release was a rare positive outcome for a foreign hostage held in Iraq. Three of Moore’s bodyguards had died and the fourth is also believed to be dead.
The group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which was believed to hold Moore and the others, agreed last year after a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to lay down its arms and join the political process, raising hopes for Moore’s release.
In return, authorities agreed to seek the release of the group’s members in U.S. custody.
In the statement Monday, the group — known in English as the League of the Righteous — accused Moore of “deliberately lying to spoil the reputation of the Islamic resistance.”
“We deny the lies he said and assure all that we had treated him well,” it said. “To confirm our position, we are showing you a video of Moore’s circumstances while in custody.”
The attached link had no sound. The statement’s authenticity could not be independently verified but it was posted on a Web site commonly used by the group.
The group also denied U.S. Gen. David Petraeus’ statement that Moore had spent some of his captivity in neighboring Iran.
Moore’s release, however, coincided with the transfer of the head of the militant group behind the kidnapping, from U.S. to Iraqi government custody.
Qais al-Khazali, along with his brother, were accused of organizing a Jan. 2007 attack on a local government headquarters in the city of Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers.
The militants had demanded al-Khazali’s release, along with that of several Shiite militiaman held by U.S. forces.
The U.S. military later said al-Khazali was released along with other members of the group after a request from the Iraqi government. Asaib Ahl al-Haq is one of many groups the Iraqi government was working with as part of the reconciliation process designed to reduce violence.
The remains of three of the other Britons taken with Moore were returned to Britain earlier last year. British officials have said they believe the fourth bodyguard is also dead.