British channel to defy Harry Afghan kidnap drama outrage

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A British television channel said it would defy calls from the military and press ahead with plans to show a drama-documentary on Thursday depicting Prince Harry being kidnapped in Afghanistan.

Channel 4 will broadcast the "The Taking Of Prince Harry" despite a written plea this week from the head of Britain's armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, to drop the programme.

"Yes, we will be showing it as planned," a Channel 4 spokesman told AFP.

"We have always said that it is a responsible documentary examining the risks faced by personnel in Afghanistan and the potential consequences of the capture of a high profile individual," the spokesman added.

"We feel that this is a legitimate and timely programme."

Harry, 26, who is third in line to the throne, served with the British army in Afghanistan for 10 weeks but was withdrawn in 2008 after media reported the deployment, triggering security fears.

His elder brother Prince William, 28, said earlier this week that he is determined to serve on the front line in Afghanistan like Harry before him.

The 90-minute programme includes fictionalised scenes of actor Sebastian Reid playing Harry being held by militants and an unloaded gun being pointed in his face before a captor pulls the trigger.

He is also forced to appear in Taliban and Al-Qaeda propaganda.

It also depicts Harry being confronted by a British-born radical Islamist and details how the British government's approach to hostage negotiations differs from other nations.

Britain has a consistent policy of refusing to pay ransom demands.

A British aid worker, Linda Norgrove, died earlier this month in Afghanistan in an attempt to rescue her from Taliban kidnappers. Officials say she may have been killed by a grenade by US special forces sent to rescue her.

Buckingham Palace has refused to comment on the programme but military sources and British tabloids have condemned it for showing a lack of respect to the 10,000 British troops in Afghanistan.

Stirrup wrote to Channel 4's chairman Lord Terry Burns recently to ask him to pull the programme. Channel 4 says it has replied, addressing his "concerns."

Harry, known as Lieutenant Wales in the military, is currently training to become a helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps, flying an Apache attack chopper.

© 2010 AFP

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