Thursday, December 28, 2006

Kidnapped Gainesville man on Iraqi videotape

Jonathan Cote, of Gainesville Florida, is one of three hostages show on an Iraqi videotape. He appeared in good condition according to sources who saw the tape. The three men were employed by Crescent Security Group - a Kuwaiti company - and have been missing for six weeks.

Cote was a student at the University of Florida for a year, his father, Francis Cote, told the Times-Union on Wednesday.

Cote, originally from Getzville, N.Y., also has family in Florida, including his mother, Laurie Cote, in Aventura, Francis Cote said.

Cote spent this summer after his first year working as a guard for Crescent Security Group in Iraq. His father said he had planned on returning to school right before he was kidnapped Nov. 16.

Before he enrolled at UF, Cote spent four years in the Army as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Francis Cote said it's been tough, but the new videotape provides some relief to the family. He said the real concern is when the tape was made.

"I just hope it's recent," he said.

Members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at UF, of which Cote was a member, sent his family a plaque honoring him for his contributions to his country.

"It's nice to know that he's in people's prayers," Francis Cote said.

The video shows all three men, then zooms in on each hostage's face as he speaks.
Next is Cote, who's the only hostage with visible signs of injury. He has slight bruising and swelling around his nose and red splotches on his face.

"I work for a private security company," Cote says. "I'm asking the American people to put pressure on the government to leave Iraq to help me and my friends get out of here."