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DON'T KILL KEN ..HE'S IRISH; Republic gives Iraq hostage Bigley passport that could save his life.

Byline: JOANNE MCELGUNN

IRAQ hostage Ken Bigley was yesterday given an Irish passport in a desperate bid to save his life.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern agreed to issue the kidnapped engineer with a passport following requests from the Bigley family.

Although Mr Bigley, 62, was born in England his mother Lil, 86, is an Irish citizen, having grown up in Dublin.

Mr Ahern said: "He is absolutely entitled to an Irish passport based on the fact that his mother is Irish. We are doing it from a humanitarian point of view."

A scan of the passport was last night given to an Iraqi TV station for broadcast in the hope that Mr Bigley's captors would see it. According to reports on an Iraqi website the kidnappers have not executed Mr Bigley because they are trying to ascertain whether he is Irish or British.

Cleric Syed al-Kareem claimed he met Mr Bigley on Saturday in Baghdad while he was negotiating with the abductors.

Al-Kareem told the website: "The captors have asked for clarification of his Irish heritage.

"They clearly stated to me that they have no fight with the Irish people but were unsure if he was an Irishman or English.

They said, 'The Irish have fought like us to wipe the stain of English imperialism, murder and rape from their lands'."

To date only hostages from countries involved in the war have been executed.

Minister Ahern added: "I am happy to agree to the Bigley family's request for a passport.

"I very much hope that it will contribute to the efforts to secure his release." Mr Bigley, a civil engineer, was kidnapped on September 16 along with two American colleagues. They have since been beheaded.

Yesterday, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi promised to use his charity contacts in Iraq to help free Mr Bigley.

He said: "The Bigleys called two days ago.

"We have good contacts in Iraq. We have friends and we can talk to them."

CAPTION(S):

DEATH THREAT: Ken Bigley in captivity
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 6, 2004
Words:339
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