Family of British hostage appeals to IS for direct contact

London:  The family of British photojournalist John Cantlie being held hostage by the Islamic State has appealed to the dreaded terror group to re-establish “direct contact” with them.

43-year-old Cantlie was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and has recently appeared in a series of videos as well as an article released by IS.

In a statement, the freelance journalist’s sister Jessica said that the family had previously been in contact with his captors, but that the channel of communication had been lost and the new efforts to speak to the jihadists were ignored.

“We implore IS to reinitiate direct contact,” she said.

Jessica said she was speaking as the head of the Cantlie family because her father, Paul, was terminally ill.

“It is not true to say there has been no attempt to engage with IS. This is simply not accurate. This is frustrating for all parties, including those who are trying to assist us.

“We had previously been in contact through a channel started by you. But this stopped for reasons best known to you,” she said in the statement.

Cantlie, who is originally from Hampshire in England, has been seen in videos which have all followed the same format, with the freelance journalist sitting at a desk wearing an orange jumpsuit like prisoners at Guantanamo Bay against a black backdrop to address the camera.

There are no signs of violence in the videos but, in the first, Cantlie made it clear he was speaking as a prisoner whose life was in danger.

Since August, IS has killed four Western hostages – US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.

Referring to the British victims, Jessica said: “Sadly like the families of David Haines and Alan Henning, before they were killed, our efforts at re-opening dialogue continue to be ignored by those holding John.”

“We strongly challenge those holding John to return to your previously-opened channel, to which we continue to send messages and await your response so that in keeping with everyone’s wishes, we can restart dialogue,” she said.

The freelance journalist has worked for news organisations including ‘The Sunday Times’ in Syria and this is the second time that he has found himself in the hands of militants in the country.

He was rescued from kidnappers in 2012, but four months later chose to return to the country, where he was abducted a second time and allegedly sold on to IS.

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