Twenty three years ago, John McCarthy was released in Lebanon after more than five years in captivity.
John was kidnapped by Islamic Jihad terrorists in Lebanon in April 1986 whilst working as a journalist for United Press International Television. He shared a cell with the Irish hostage Brian Keenan for several years, though Brian was released nearly a year earlier on 24 August 1990.
Following McCarthy’s release, he co-authored – with Jill Morrell – a memoir of his years in captivity, entitled Some Other Rainbow. In 1995, John sailed around the coast of Britain with Sandi Toksvig – he had attended university with her brother, Nick – making a BBC documentary TV series and a book of the experience. McCarthy also co-presented the BBC Radio 4 programme Excess Baggage with Sandi.
John and Jill split up four years after his release but they will always have a bond. The contrast between McCarthy’s life and Morrell’s is poignant. McCarthy married Anna Ottewill in 1999 – they met when she was editing a book he was working on – and they have a daughter, Lydia.
He divides his time between Suffolk and London and enjoys a career as a successful broadcaster and writer. He published The Forgotten Land: A Journey Through Palestine in 2011.
Four year ago – in 2010 – John met Giandomenico Picco, a softly spoken Italian, who risked life and limb to rescue John when he was UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs. As well as successfully negotiating the ceasefire between Iran and Iraq, Giandomencio ensured the release of Western hostages in Lebanon. He is, understandably, a hero to John and the other hostages.