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Former Hostage In Iraq Apologizes For Statements

20 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- An engineer who was rescued from insurgents in Iraq last week has returned to his home country of Australia and apologized for statements he made in captivity calling for the withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq.

Douglas Wood, speaking to reporters at Melbourne airport early on 20 June, apologized to Australian Prime Minister John Howard and U.S. President George W. Bush, saying his statements in video recordings released by his captors had been made under duress.

The 64-year-old Wood said he still supports Australian and U.S. policies in Iraq, particularly efforts to train Iraqi security forces.

Wood said he feared his captors would kill him, but that he never gave up hope during his 47 days in captivity that his family was trying to win his release.

"I love my family, and I knew that they'd be doing as much as they could to get me out any way," Wood said. "I'm overwhelmed, having come out, understanding the support (a) of the family, and (b) of the [Australian] federal people here, you all [the media]. It's very humbling."

Wood said he never learned the identity of the militants who kidnapped him.

Wood was freed by Iraqi and U.S. troops on 15 June during a search of a house in Baghdad.


See also:

Australian Hostage Released In Iraq

For the latest news and analysis on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq"