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Gay Christian
activist freed from captivity in Iraq

Gay Christian
activist freed from captivity in Iraq

Loney

Gay Christian activist James Loney thanked God, supporters, and British troops in Toronto on Sunday for freeing him after four months of "terrifying" captivity in Iraq. His family had kept his sexual orientation a secret for fear of retribution from his captors.

A gay Christian activist thanked God, supporters, and British troops in Toronto on Sunday for freeing him after four months of "terrifying" captivity in Iraq, The National Post reports. "To the British soldiers who risked their lives to rescue us, to the government of Canada who sent a team to Baghdad to help secure our release, for all those who thought about and prayed for us, for all those who spoke for us when we had no voice, I am forever and truly grateful. It's great to be alive," James Loney told a throng of news media an hour after touching down in the city.

As he strode into a room at Pearson Airport to meet with media, a bearded Loney was flanked by his partner, Dan Hunt, brothers Ed and Matt Loney, and Ed's wife, Donna. He had clearly lost considerable weight. "During my captivity, I sometimes entertained myself by imagining this day," Loney said. "Sometimes I despaired of ever seeing it, always I ached for it."

Loney said he is eager to tell the story of his ordeal and is deeply saddened by the slaying of Tom Fox, a fellow hostage from the United States and comember of the Christian Peacemaker Teams. "For 118 days, I disappeared into a black hole, and somehow, by God's grace, I was spit out again.... It was a terrifying, profound, powerful, transformative, and excruciatingly boring experience."

A team of British and U.S. soldiers freed Loney, 41, fellow Canadian Harmeet Singh Sooden, 33, and 74-year-old Norman Kember, an Englishman, in a mission on Thursday that was weeks in the planning and remains shrouded in secrecy. Fox and his fellow Peacemakers had been planning to meet Sunni leaders last November 26 as part of efforts to oppose what they call the U.S. occupation of Iraq when they were kidnapped by masked members of the shadowy Brigades of the Swords of Righteousness.

The hostage-takers said they would kill the men unless Western forces released all Iraqi prisoners. Fox, an American, was shot to death, his body discovered two weeks ago. Canadian government and intelligence officials as well as some of this country's elite JTF2 commandos also reportedly had a hand in the rescue mission.

Loney said he wanted to fall into an "abyss of love" with family and friends and longs to "wash a sink full of dirty dishes." "I am eager to tell the story of my captivity and rescue, but I need a little time first," Loney said. "That is a subtle hint to anyone out there who might have a big camera or notebook." (The Advocate)

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