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British Hostage Seized By Islamic State With Foley Appears In New Video

By Mark Seibel, McClatchy Washington Bureau

A British photographer whose kidnapping in Syria has been subject to a media blackout for nearly two years has appeared in an Islamic State video that was posted on the Internet Thursday.

John Cantlie, who people close to the case have long known was with American James Foley in northern Syria when both were seized by radical Islamist extremists, confirmed that he had been kidnapped in November 2012. Foley disappeared on Thanksgiving Day that year.

It was the second time Cantlie had been kidnapped in Syria. The first time had come four months earlier, when he and a Dutch photographer were seized by jihadists in a case that for the first time revealed the presence of radical foreign fighters inside Syria.

Cantlie and the Dutch photographer, Jeroen Oerlemans, who were held for a week before they were freed, said their kidnappers included many native English-speakers, whom Oerlemans described as having accents from Birmingham, a city in England.

British authorities even filed criminal charges against one man, a British physician, whom Cantlie identified as having been among his abductors. But the case was dismissed last year, with British prosecutors explaining only that Cantlie was “unavailable” to testify.

That was because Cantlie had been seized again, this time with Foley.

In the 3-minute and 21-second video, Cantlie, who is the only figure visible, appears seated at a desk, dressed in an orange jumpsuit similar to those worn by Foley, American journalist Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines when they were beheaded by an English-speaking executioner.

Cantlie says nothing about the Foley kidnapping or why he had gone back into Syria so soon after having been released from his previous abduction; fellow journalists have speculated he was trying to track down his original kidnappers.

He also does not say explicitly that he has been threatened with death. He acknowledges, however, that he is a prisoner, felt abandoned by his government, and that he had nothing to lose by making the video.

He also says there will be others — he called them “the next few programs” — in which he said he would “show you the truth as the Western media tries to drag you back into another war with the Islamic State.”

“I’m going to show you the truth behind the systems and motivations of the Islamic State and how the Western media, the very organization I used to work for, can twist and manipulate that truth to the public back home,” he says. “There are two sides to every story.”

He promised also to explain how the British and U.S. governments had refused to negotiate with the Islamic State for the release of their citizens, while other European governments paid ransoms and saw their captives go free.

“I think you may be surprised by what you learn,” he concludes, without saying when the next video might be posted.

Cantlie’s whereabouts have been a mystery since Foley’s execution video was posted Aug. 19, with many wondering why he was not among the British hostages threatened with death. The Islamic State has threatened to execute a fourth hostage, British aid worker Alan Henning.

AFP Photo/Jm Lopez

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Judge Says United States Doesn’t Have To Reveal Cost Of Guantanamo’s Secret Camp 7

By Mark Seibel, McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — A federal judge agreed Thursday that the Pentagon does not have to reveal how much was paid to build the crumbling, secret Camp 7 at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, rejecting a Miami Herald bid to make the number public.

U.S. District Judge Berryl Howell in Washington, D.C., said that the document that contained the figure had been properly classified and denied a request from The Herald‘s Carol Rosenberg that it be made public.

In a making her decision, Howell relied on a secret filing from the Defense Department that neither Rosenberg nor her attorneys were allowed to see.

Camp 7 is the secret prison facility at Guantanamo where alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 14 other former CIA captives called “high value detainees” are held.

Rosenberg sued the Department of Defense in October, alleging that the Pentagon had acted improperly when it withheld the document, saying it contained information “regarding intelligence activities, sources, or methods.”

In her suit, Rosenberg said the cost of building Camp 7 was of compelling public interest because the U.S. Southern Command had sought $69 million for a replacement because the current facility is in danger of collapsing. The House Armed Services Committee approved the expenditure, but the Senate has yet to approve the proposal and it is thought unlikely that it will.

Rosenberg had first sought the cost of Camp 7 in an April 2009 Freedom of Information Act filing as part of her reporting on the amount of money the U.S. spends to operate the detention center for terrorist suspects, which currently holds 149 men, most of whom have been cleared for transfer to other countries.

Since Rosenberg began her reporting, members of Congress have offered varying estimates on the cost of the prison facility, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying last year that the U.S. currently is spending $2.7 million per inmate to operate the prison. In a story in 2011, Rosenberg estimated the cost at $800,000 per inmate a year.

Rosenberg said she was disappointed in the judge’s decision. “It seems odd to me that after the U.S. Army furnished Congress with the cost of a new Camp 7, we the people can’t know what we paid for the old one,” she said.

AFP Photo/Mladen Antonov

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