UK

Paul Cantlie, Father Of Islamic State Hostage, Dies Not Knowing Fate Of Son, John

22/10/2014 07:25 BST | Updated 22/10/2014 07:59 BST

The father of an Islamic State (IS) hostage has died, days after making an emotional plea for his son to be released, his family have said in a heartbreaking statement.

Paul Cantlie, 80, died "from complications following pneumonia", according to a family statement after recording an impassioned video message for his son John's captors earlier this month, calling on them to give the hostage up.

In the video, Mr Cantlie spoke about the pride he had for his son, and said nothing would bring him "greater joy" than his release.

READ MORE: John Cantlie's Father Issues Powerful Plea To Islamic State From His Hospital Bed

British Hostage John Cantlie Appears In New Propaganda Film, Talks Of 'Gulf War III'

Today, in a powerful statement, Mr Cantlie's family said: "Paul died not knowing whether John's captors had received any of the messages he had sent to them."

They said they had made "urgent" attempts to contact the hostage and inform him, since the death last Thursday, October 16.

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Paul Cantlie and his son, John

The family said Paul Cantlie's physical strength had been diminishing since the kidnap of his photojournalist son, from Surrey. by jihadists two years ago.

In a statement, the family said: "It is with great sadness that we announce that Paul Cantlie, father of Jessica, Toby and John Henry, and husband to his late wife Carol, died on the morning of Thursday 16 October, from complications following pneumonia.

"His family have, over the last few days, urgently tried to contact John to let him know about their father's death before it is made public.

"Many in the country will recall the recent broadcast from his hospital bed, when so demonstrably ill, but determined that his journalist son John should hear from his father 'how very proud I am of him'.

"He totally deplored what he and many others saw as an abuse of power by Tony Blair when the UK went into Iraq in 2003. With many others, he called for Tony Blair to be indicted for war crimes."

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Paul Cantlie

The statement added: "Paul died not knowing whether John's captors had received any of the messages he had sent to them. The failure of communication to date has inevitably led to a terrible sense of abandonment, particularly for John's father, with the family feeling ignored.

"This burden has been especially hard these last few days, as we have so needed to tell John that his father, whom he so loved, has died.

"Paul Cantlie will be remembered by many for his fortitude, quiet courage, wry humour and keen intelligence, as well as for his great gentleness.

"As life became increasingly hard, these qualities shone ever more brightly and he leaves behind a steady beacon for Jessica, Toby, John Henry and the wider family to steer by as they struggle with the realities they all currently face."

John Cantlie had been shown in a series of videos in recent weeks in which he speaks about Islamic State (IS), and criticises both the United States and UK governments over their strategies for dealing with the terrorists.

Cantlie, who wears an orange jumpsuit and appears to be reading from prepared scripts each time, has said it is true he is a prisoner but claimed he had been abandoned by the Government.

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John Cantlie, the journalist being held by IS militants

In a video message from his hospital bed earlier this month, the hostage's father said: "My family and I are trying to communicate with the Islamic State to deliver an important message regarding John and can only hope that it's been received as we have had no response."

Speaking with the help of a voice aid from a hospital bed, Mr Cantlie said the family experienced "great relief" when they saw John in a televised broadcast - but this feeling turned to "despair".

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Freelance British photojournalist John Cantlie poses with a Free Syrian Army rebel before he was captured

"For the first time in almost two years, we saw John when he made a televised broadcast during which he told viewers that he was still a prisoner of the Islamic State and that maybe he will live and maybe he will die.

"As a family we experienced great relief seeing and hearing John and knowing that he is alive. This was followed by the feeling of despair and helplessness.

"To those holding John, please know that he is a good man. He sought only to help the Syrian people and I ask you for all that is sacred to help us and allow him to return home safely to those he loves and those who love him."

John's sister, Jessica Cantlie, also recently spoke out for the first time and urged the terror group to "restart dialogue" with his family.

The freelance journalist from Haslemere, Surrey, has worked for news organisations including the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times in Syria. He has been held by jihadists since his kidnap in November 2012.