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Douglas Wood's family pleads for his release -

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Douglas Wood's family pleads for his release

Reporter: Norman Hermant

TONY JONES: First to the saga surrounding the Australian held hostage in Iraq, Douglas Wood. His
family has taped a dramatic plea for his release to be aired on Arabic news channels such as
al-Jazeera. The intended audience are the hostage-takers who hold Douglas Wood's life in their
hands. The Federal Government has also turned to Al Jazeera, with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
expressing concerns for the Australian hostage's health. And against the backdrop to free Mr Woods
- turbulent events in Iraq. The first democratically elected government in 50 years has been sworn
in, but the violence goes on, with more than 45 people killed in the latest suicide bombing. Norman
Hermant reports.

NORMAN HERMANT: The family of Douglas Wood is reaching out to his captors the only way they can.
This afternoon, at an ABC studio in Canberra, they taped a message for broadcast on Arab language
news channels such as Al Jazeera, all in hopes those holding the 63-year-old Australian hostage
will hear their words.

MALCOLM WOOD, BROTHER: My name is Malcolm Wood. My brother Vernon is beside me.

NORMAN HERMANT: This appeal aimed at convincing hostage takers Douglas Wood was working for the
good of Iraq.

MALCOLM WOOD: His work has focused on the safety of power plants, to help save lives of workers and
surrounding communities.

NORMAN HERMANT: There was also the clear message that there's no chance demands that Australian
troops leave Iraq will be met.

MALCOLM WOOD: We firmly believe that Douglas's captivity will make no difference to the policy of
the Australian Government. Douglas's captivity serves no public purpose. Douglas respects the
people of Iraq, their patriotic spirit and their right to independence. Douglas and we, his family,
support this.

NORMAN HERMANT: Malcolm Wood expressed concern for his brother's health, especially his serious
heart condition. And there was this pledge for the hostage-takers.

MALCOLM WOOD: Should he be released, we will ask Douglas to close down his company and leave Iraq.
We do not wish Douglas, an unwell man, to remain in Iraq away from his loved ones.

NORMAN HERMANT: These were carefully chosen words, designed to emphasise the humanity, the
personality, and the importance of the life kidnappers now hold in their hands.

MALCOLM WOOD: Everyone likes Douglas. More than that, many who have known him love him. On behalf
of all of us, we, Douglas's family, ask his captors to return him to us unharmed.

NORMAN HERMANT: The government has also taken to the air waves.


NORMAN HERMANT: Alexander Downer appeared on Al Jazeera and the Foreign Minister also expressed
concerns for Mr Wood's health.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Douglas Wood is not a well man. He has a very serious heart condition. He has a
problem with one of his eyes as well. We are concerned about his health in any case. And being held
hostage in this way, being abducted, is only going to put further strain on his health.

NORMAN HERMANT: In Iraq itself, more bloodshed - just one day after the country's new government
was sworn in. More than 45 people were killed when a blast rocked the northern Kurdish city of
Arbil. It's believed a suicide bomber targeted a police recruiting centre, located in the same
building that houses offices of the powerful Kurdistan democratic party. Most of the dead were
police recruits. In all, more than 200 people have died in attacks since the government ended a
political deadlock by naming a Cabinet last week. So far the political progress has brought a new
wave of insurgent violence. Norman Hermant, Lateline.