Father’s ‘despair’ over son’s terror hostage broadcast

Freelance British photojournalist John Cantlie. (AP Photo)
Freelance British photojournalist John Cantlie. (AP Photo)
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The bed-bound father of journalist John Cantlie, who is being held by Islamic State (IS) militants, has issued an emotional appeal for his son’s release.

Paul Cantlie spoke of his family’s “despair and helplessness” after seeing his son on a video which was released on the internet.

Delivering his appeal in a video filmed at his hospital bedside, he said: “To those holding John, please know that he is a good man.

“He sought only to help the Syrian people and I ask you from all that is sacred to help us to allow him to return safely to those he loves and those who love him.”

Speaking with the help of a voice aid, Mr Cantlie said the family experienced “great relief” when they saw John in a televised broadcast – but this feeling turned to “despair”.

Referring to the moment he saw John in the clip, Mr Cantlie said: “For the first time in almost two years, we saw John when he made a televised broadcast during which he told viewers that he was still a prisoner of IS and that maybe he will live and maybe he will die.

“As a family we experienced great relief seeing and hearing John and knowing that he is alive, but this was followed by the feeling of despair and helplessness.”

Journalist Mr Cantlie has worked for newspapers including the Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph and The Sun.

He was seized in northern Syria, where he had been working as an independent photo journalist, “seeking out the true story of the suffering of the Syrian people and ensuring the world was made aware of their plight”, his father said.

Speaking about his son, Mr Cantlie said: “John felt a strong need to help in the best way that he could.

“As an impartial and respected journalist he knew that he could make a difference by acting as a platform for the world to listen to and take notice, using his journalistic skills for the good of the people; as a friend and as a civilian.

“I have had many messages saying they cannot conceive what we, his family and all those who love him, must be feeling.”

He spoke about the pride he had for his son, and said nothing would bring him “greater joy” than his release.

He said: “Speaking entirely for myself, this is not how I had imagined I would be passing my 81st year. I want John to know how very proud I am of him. I can think of no greater joy than seeing him again, released and allowed to return to those who love him.”

Mr Cantlie said he and his family are trying to communicate with IS to deliver an “important message regarding John” and said they could only hope it had been received as they have had no response.

Hostage Mr Cantlie appeared to feature in a propaganda video released by extremists.

The clip, which lasts for five-and-a-half minutes, shows the journalist sitting at a desk dressed in a similar orange outfit as worn by other IS hostages.

The video is introduced with the title ‘Lend Me Your Ears’ and ‘Messages From The British Detainee John Cantlie’ before the Briton appears on screen.

Mr Cantlie, who looks calm and appears to be reciting a prepared script, describes himself as a ‘long-term prisoner’.

He and goes on to criticise US president Barack Obama’s strategy of attempting to defeat IS fighters using air strikes.

Mr Cantlie’s call for his son’s release was made just days after the wife of Salford taxi driver Alan Henning issued a renewed plea to IS for his release. Mr Henning, a former taxi driver from Salford, was kidnapped last December in Syria by IS militants.