‘Act now!’ Family of captured Aiden Aslin demand Boris free him from Russia hell

Ukraine: Aiden Aslin 'is not a mercenary’ says mother

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Aiden Aslin was a combatant with the Ukrainian armed forces when taken prisoner by Moscow. His mother, Angela Wood, and his brother, Nathan Aslin, are now calling for the UK Government to comply with what they dubbed its “moral obligation” and to do all that is in its hands to rescue the 28-year-old Briton. A prisoner swap, they said, seems like the most viable option.

Mr Aslin’s story came into the spotlight when he was paraded in front of cameras by his Russian captors and interviewed by Graham William Phillips, a British man who has previously worked for the Kremlin-backed television channel RT and been accused of spreading Vladimir Putin’s propaganda.

During the 45-minute video, Mr Aslin, from Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, is asked several times if he is speaking under duress, to which he answers no.

His family, however, have assured her son is being forced “at gunpoint” to spread Russian propaganda.

Mr Aslin is being held along with fellow British soldier Shaun Pinner, 48.

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They are among some 1,000 Ukrainian troops from the Ukrainian 36th Marine Brigade who surrendered in Mariupol, according to the Kremlin.

City mayor Vadym Boichenko said about 21,000 civilians have been killed in the city.

Further, he condemned the shocking reports of Russian trucks that collected corpses from the city to transport them to the nearby village of Manhush and secretly throw them into a mass grave.

Mr Boichenko said: “The invaders are concealing evidence of their crimes. The cemetery is located near a petrol station to the left side of a circular road.

“The Russians have dug huge trenches, 30 metres wide. They chuck people in.”

US satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies released photos that appeared to match the site – a field next to the settlement’s old cemetery.

Speaking on TalkTV on Tuesday, Ms Wood said: “I would like to hope that Boris will help. And talk to the Ukraine Government, (and) embassy. There can be something sorted out so that these two guys can come home.”

Mr Aslin’s local MP, Robert Jenrick, last week said a prisoner swap was the most likely route to get Mr Aslin to safety.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the Tory told Mr Johnson: “The misuse of Aiden Aslin by the Russian government for propaganda purposes, including featuring him in videos clearly filmed under duress, is a disgraceful and flagrant breach of the Geneva convention.

“Russia must desist from this illegal behaviour immediately and treat Aiden appropriately.”

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The Prime Minister responded: “I think everybody will want to urge the Russian state to treat his constituent humanely and compassionately because in my view, although we do not encourage people to, in fact, we actively dissuade people from going to that theatre of conflict, I understand he had been serving in the Ukrainian forces for some time and his situation was very different from that of a mercenary.

“I hope that he is treated with care and compassion and I thoroughly echo the sentiments that my Right Honourable friend expresses about those who broadcast propaganda messages.”

Nathan said he spoke to his brother on the phone following the comments, and said he was hoping there would be a swap soon.

Mr Aslin’s brother, who spoke with him on the phone with him after Mr Johnson’s comments, said he hoped that “at some point there will be a prisoner swap”.

He added: “However, it’s out of my hands. It is between Ukraine and Russia.”

Summarising his phone conversation with his brother, he added: “It was obvious that he was with the Russian people that were holding him and he was asking for me to contact Boris to get this prison swap done. And to keep on asking for this swap.”

When asked to send a message out to Mr Johnson, he said: “Act now when you got the time to act.

“You’ve got two British citizens on the line, being forced to say whatever the Russians are putting in (their) mouths at gunpoint, whether they show it on the camera or not. And it’s a moral obligation to do something about it.”

Russia’s ministry of foreign affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova recently said British captives, including Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner, were being given “food and drink, as well as any other assistance they may need” during their detention.

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