British man in Ukraine believed held by Russians appeals to Boris Johnson

Read Time:1 Minute, 51 Second

The Guardian

A British man apparently being held captive by Russian forces in Ukraine has been shown in a video appealing for help from Boris Johnson.

In the video shared on the Telegram messaging app, John Harding, who is in his 50s and originally from Sunderland, is being interviewed by a Russian journalist.

He says he could face the death penalty, saying: “I would say to Boris Johnson, if you can help, if you can influence President Zelenskiy, if you can influence the president of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), or if you can influence President Putin, then please do. “People’s lives are depending on this. So if you can, please help.”

Harding is believed to have been captured in May, while fighting with the Azov Regiment, part of the Ukrainian National Guard, defending the city of Mariupol before they were forced to surrender after sustained bombardment.

Friends and family of Harding have confirmed to the BBC it was him in the video, and his family are being supported by the Foreign Office.

It comes after British aid worker, Paul Urey, who was detained by Russian separatists in Ukraine died last week. Officials from the DPR said he died in captivity from underlying health conditions and “stress”.

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Last month, two other British men, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, who were also captured in Mariupol, were sentenced to death by a Russian proxy court in the DPR.

The UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss, condemned the sentencing, saying of the men: “They are prisoners of war. This is a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy … my thoughts are with the families. We continue to do everything we can to support them.”

Later in the video, the Russian journalist asks Harding what his last words would be to his daughter if he was handed a death sentence.

Harding replies: “Obviously, I would tell her that I wish I’d spent more time with her, but I didn’t. I don’t really know.”

July 17, 2022 at 11:58PM Sarah Haque

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