By Libya Herald staff,
Benghazi, 4 October 2014:
British teacher David Richard Bolam who was seized Benghazi in May and held hostage by . . .[restrict]purported Islamists has been released after five months captivity. He flew back to Britain on Thursday.
The 53-year-old who was the principal at Benghazi International School was held by a group said to be called the Army of Islam but little is known about it. There was a group in Derna called the Army of the Islamic State. It is now part of the Shoura Council of Islamic Youth which on Friday declared its allegiance to Daesh.
A video of Bolam pleading to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron to get him released by agreeing to a prisoner exchange appeared on YouTube in August. Appearing dishevelled and in a white vest, the teacher said that the US had recently been involved in prisoner swap and suggested that the UK should do the same. But there was no mention of who he thought the UK should release. The UK is not known to be holding any Libyan prisoners.
The video had prompted fears for Bolum’s life. Last year, another teacher at the International School, Ronnie Smith from the US, was shot dead while jogging in Benghazi.
However, it is reported that, as in so many other Libyan kidnapping cases, a ransom was paid to secure Bolam’s freedom, but the British government’s policy is never to make payments to free hostages. If a payment was made, it suggests that the kidnapping was financial rather than political and that the call for a prisoner exchange was a spurious diversion.
The UK’s Foreign Office had requested a media blackout on the kidnapping in the belief that it would help in securing Bolam’s freedom.
Confirming the release, British Ambassador Michael Aron tweeted “Delighted Benghazi Head Teacher David Bolam has been released after over 4 months in captivity”.
In a statement the Foreign Office said: “We are glad that David Bolam is safe and well after his ordeal, and that he has been reunited with his family.
“We have been supporting his family since he was taken. We do not comment on the detail of hostage cases. The family have asked for privacy at this time.”