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Fifth British Iraq Hostage May Be Returned In Days

Briton Peter Moore was released last week

Briton Peter Moore was released last week

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- An Iraqi government spokesman said today that a fifth British hostage, captured in Iraq in 2007, may be handed over to British authorities in the coming days.

Ali al-Dabbagh said he hoped security guard Alan McMenemy was still alive, but could not confirm it.

British authorities said they believe he is dead and have called for his body to be returned.

The man he was guarding, British computer programmer Peter Moore was released alive last week. The bodies of three other security guards were handed to the British embassy last year.

"We hope McMenemy is still alive. The Iraqi government is seeking his release and his handover. That will be soon, God willing," Dabbagh said.

"This is part of the release process. All must be handed over to the British embassy. And that is what will happen in the coming days," he added.

Britain's Foreign Office said there was no reason to believe McMenemy was alive.

"Our position is unchanged," a spokeswoman said.

"We've believed for some time that Alan has been killed. His family has been told about this. We continue to urge those holding him to return his body. We are in close contact with the Iraqi authorities."

Iraq has repeatedly said it is not part of any negotiations for the Britons' release, but that it supported efforts to secure their freedom and had details of the issue through mediators.