Al-Qaeda denies holding UK hostage freed in Yemen

Al-Qaeda tells Al Jazeera that it never held a UK hostage that the UAE said it freed from the group in Yemen on Sunday.

    The UAE said Semple, 64, was brought back to Aden and subsequently flown to Abu Dhabi [UK Foreign Office]
    The UAE said Semple, 64, was brought back to Aden and subsequently flown to Abu Dhabi [UK Foreign Office]

    Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has told Al Jazeera that it never held a UK citizen which the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it had freed from the group in Yemen on Sunday.

    The UAE said its troops had rescued British oil engineer Douglas Semple from AQAP forces in an operation on August 23.

    In a statement to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, AQAP said: "The UAE government claimed that it freed a British citizen held by al-Qaeda.

    "We would like to clarify to the media that this is untrue. We do not hold any British hostages.

    "The incident that the UAE government claims took place with its special forces did not happen."

    Britain's foreign ministry told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that it could not comment on the details of hostage cases. The UAE foreign ministry could not be contacted for comment. 

    The UAE said on Sunday that Semple, 64, was brought back to Aden and subsequently flown to Abu Dhabi where he was met by UAE officials and the British ambassador.

    Britain's foreign ministry confirmed the release of a UK citizen in a UAE military intelligence operation.

    In a statement issued through the Foreign Office on Tuesday, Semple said: "My wife Sallie and I want to thank all the people who supported us through this ordeal: especially the Foreign Office, Hostage UK, the police, our family, friends and well wishers, and the UAE forces who secured my release.

    "We are incredibly grateful to you all.

    "We would also like to thank the media for showing restraint during my 18 months in captivity, and I ask that this continues, allowing me to enjoy some valuable and much-missed time with my family.

    "It is great to be home."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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