A British Army veteran who could face the death penalty after he was captured by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine has begged Boris Johnson and President Putin to secure his release.
Speaking in an interview on YouTube, John Harding called on the prime minister to put pressure on the Ukrainian, rebel and Russian leaderships.
“Boris Johnson, if you can help, if you can influence President Zelensky, if you can influence the president of the DNR, or if you can influence President Putin, please do,” Harding said. “Because otherwise I face the death penalty. My friends face the death penalty.”
Harding, 59, who may have been under duress, was fighting for Ukrainian forces when he was captured in May. It is thought he is being held with Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, two other Britons who fought for Ukraine and who have been sentenced to death for allegedly being mercenaries.
A video was posted online of Aslin singing the Russian anthem. He was watched by John Dougan, a former US police officer who fled to Russia from Florida in 2016 after leaking confidential information about police and intelligence service officers online. Dougan travelled to Ukraine, where he is helping Moscow spread claims that the US funded bioweapons laboratories there, with the aim of carrying out biological warfare against pro-Russian troops.
Harding travelled to Syria in 2015, spending months fighting with Kurdish forces against Islamic State. Three years later, he moved to Kyiv, joining Ukrainian government forces.
On Friday it emerged that a British diabetic man who was captured by Russian separatists in Ukraine had died after lacking medicines. Relatives of Paul Urey, 45, from near Warrington, say he went to Ukraine to help civilians.