October Crisis hostage James Cross dies at age 99

Former British diplomat succumbs to son-in-law, report says.

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MONTREAL — James Cross, the British diplomat whose kidnapping in 1970 by the Front de libération du Québec triggered the October Crisis, has died at the age of 99, CBC News reported Wednesday.

The report quoted Cross’s son-in-law as saying Cross had succumbed to COVID-19.

Cross was kidnapped from his home on Redpath Crescent in Montreal on Oct. 5, 1970. He was held captive by the FLQ for 59 days in a windowless room in Montreal North.

Eventually, the hideout was discovered by police, but extricating Cross alive was not so simple.

A deal was made. On Dec. 3, Cross was released, driven to Man and His World on Île-Ste-Hélène and placed in the custody of Cuban diplomats. Meanwhile, his captors and their families were flown to exile in Cuba on a Canadian Forces plane. Cross was released once their arrival there was confirmed.

Reporters who saw Cross before he boarded the plane back to England wrote that, although he was pale, he appeared relaxed and confident. “Only when he spoke of Pierre Laporte’s death did the full measure of his ordeal tell on his face,” the Montreal Gazette reported. Laporte, a Quebec cabinet minister, had been kidnapped by another FLQ cell and killed by his captors.

Once back in London, Cross continued his civil service career, although he never had another foreign posting. He retired to Seaford, a town on England’s southern coast, the CBC reported.

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