UK

British Hostage John Cantlie Fronts New Islamic State Video 'Defending' Terror Group

18/09/2014 15:50 BST | Updated 19/09/2014 09:59 BST

An extraordinary new propaganda video has been published showing a British journalist held hostage by Islamic State in Syria appearing to defend the terrorist group and insisting he is doing it of his own free will.

John Cantlie, who has worked for The Sun, The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph speaks from behind a table in a darkened room, wearing an orange jumpsuit, as he pledges to dispel "manipulated truths" about group who have beheaded three Western hostages in the last month.

He claims to be doing this of his own free will, though IS videos that showed the execution of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines all showed them making statements under duress, condemning their governments.

He insists "many things have changed" since his capture in November 2012.

He speaks in English, accompanied by Arabic subtitles.

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John Cantlie being interviewed in 2012

In the professionally-produced three-minute video, which almost has the air of a talk show, Cantlie speaks calmly, introducing himself, giving his background and explaining how he will dispel myths about IS.

It it called 'Lend Me Your Ears', with the subtitle: 'Messages from the British Detainee John Cantlie". It uses three different camera angles, including two closeups, as Cantlie talks seated at the desk.

"I know what you're thinking. You're thinking 'he's only doing this because he's a prisoner, he's got a gun at his head and he's being forced to do this'," Cantlie says.

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John Cantlie as he appears in the video

"It's true I am a prisoner. But seeing as I've been abandoned by my government and my fate lies in the hands of Islamic State, I have nothing to lose.

"Maybe I will live and maybe I will die, but I want to take this opportunity to convey some facts that, if you contemplate them, may save lives."

He pledges to show "truths over the next few programmes" about how the Western media have tried to "drag the West into another war with Islamic State".

Eeerily, he says "you the public" must "act now" to prevent "history repeating itself".

He also says he will show "the truth about systems and motivations" of IS.

Cantile also says: "The Western media, the very organisation I used to work for, can twist and manipulate that truth."

The Huffington Post UK has requested a comment from the Foreign Office.

Within half an hour of the video being uploaded to Youtube, it had been deleted.

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John Cantlie being interviewed on Channel 4 News in 2012

Cantlie, 43, was captured in July 2012 with Dutch colleague Jeroen Oerlemans while they were covering the civil war in Syria.

Both eventually managed to escape with the help of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Cantlie suffered nerve damage and was left with limited movement in his fingers of his left hand.

He said he was still eager to return to Syria to report on the war despite what had happened.

He said: "I am itching to get back out there. The only thing stopping me is my cameras, as I lost them out there and need to buy some more."

How Cantlie came to be re-captured by IS is unclear - he claims to have been captured after entering Syria in November 2012.

In November 2013, he was listed to be a prosecution witness in the trial of of NHS doctor Shajul Islam charged with his kidnapping collapsed because the prosection could not call Cantlie as a witness.

The case collapsed, with Cantlie unable to give evidence, and Islam has maintained he was on a humanitarian mission to Syria.

After his escape in July 2012, his friend Matthew Van Dyke said: "John Cantlie is a friend of mine. I used to take him and James Foley in my military jeep to the front lines in Sirte, Libya during the war so they could report on the combat.

"He's a great friend and photographer and I'm glad he's been freed from his kidnappers in Syria."

Video transcript

Hello, my name is Jon Cantlie. I'm a British journalist who used to work for some of the biggest newspapers and magazines in the UK including the Sunday Times, The Sun and The Sunday Telegraph.

In November 2012, I came to Syria where I was subsequently captured by the Islamic State. Now, nearly two years later, many things have changed, including the expansion of the Islamic State to include large areas of western Syria and eastern Iraq- a landmass bigger than Britain and many other nations.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking 'he's only doing this because he's a prisoner, he's got a gun at his head and he's being forced to do this'.

It's true I am a prisoner. But seeing as I've been abandoned by my government and my fate lies in the hands of Islamic State, I have nothing to lose.

Maybe I will live and maybe I will die but I want to take this opportunity to convey some facts that you can verify. Facts that if you contemplate them, might help save lives.

Over the next few programmes, I'm going to show you the truth as the Western media tries to drag the public back to the abyss of another war with the Islamic State.

After two disastrous and hugely unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, why is it that our governments appear so keen to get into another unwinnable conflict?

I'm going to show you the truth behind the systems and motivation of the Islamic State and how the Western media, the very organisation I used to work for, can twist and manipulate that truth for the public back home.

There are two sides to every story. Think you're getting the whole picture?

And I will show you the truth behind what happened when many European citizens were imprisoned and later released by the Islamic State and how the British and American governments thought they could do it differently from every other European country.

They negotiated with the Islamic State and got their people home while the British and Americans were left behind.

It's very alarming to see where this is all headed. it seems like history repeating itself, yet again.

There is time to change this seemingly inevitable sequence of events but only if you the public act now. Join me for the next few programmes and I think you might be surprised by what you learn.

From the Press Association:

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the BBC the Foreign Office would examine the video to "look at its origins and check its veracity". He said an international effort would squeeze IS - formerly known as Isil - "out of existence".

He added: "I don't think we need any reminding of what an odious and barbaric movement Isil is. They call themselves Islamic State, (but) they are nothing to do with Islam, which is a peace-loving religion, they are certainly not a state, it's just a murderous medieval terrorist outfit.

"Their methods are cynical, they are violent, they are brutal and I think it is right that the world will be coming together next week at the United Nations' general assembly, which will be a very important get together for world leaders, to really decide how the world co-operates together in support of the legitimate governments in the region in order to, bit by bit, dismantle and squeeze Isil out of existence."