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Huge Madeleine campaign response

Original Source:  BBC: 17 MAY 2007
Thursday, 17 May 2007

The family of missing Madeleine McCann has said there has been an overwhelming response to their campaign to find the four-year-old.

Michael Wright, a close relative of Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate, said a campaign website has had more than five million visitors.

Madeleine went missing exactly two weeks ago while on holiday in Portugal.

Russian Sergey Malinka, who has been questioned over her disappearance, has denied any involvement.

Private detectives

Speaking in Praia da Luz, Mr Wright said: "Gerry and Kate are taking immense strength from the support and good wishes that they are receiving from all over the world.

"They have been totally overwhelmed by offers from individuals, small companies, and large multi-national corporations.

"Both of them are firmly fixed on the campaign which is designed to raise Madeleine's profile right across Europe and ensure we bring her home."

He said a fund launched with the website on Wednesday would pay for the campaign and to hire experts in publicity and detection.

There has been speculation the family may hire private investigators to look for Madeleine, who vanished from her bed when her parents were at a nearby restaurant on 3 May.

Mr Wright said companies had agreed to include Madeleine's image on outgoing emails while others have promised text message campaigns, poster distribution and financial support.

Meanwhile, IT expert Mr Malinka, 22, was taken to a police station in Portimao and computer equipment was removed from his flat in Praia da Luz.

He says he is "completely" innocent and that his life had "fallen apart".

Police have not officially confirmed the man they have questioned is Mr Malinka. But they said the man had been questioned as a witness.

Briton Robert Murat, 33, is the only formal suspect in the case.

Mr Malinka is believed to have designed a website for Mr Murat's property business.

Following his release, Mr Malinka said he did not have a criminal record in any country.

He said: "I've invested seven years of my life in this country trying to succeed, and suddenly in one hour it's all fallen apart."

Speaking later he refused to comment on reports that there were several mobile phone calls between himself and Mr Murat on the night Madeleine disappeared.

'Honest and normal'

He did confirm that his name was in Mr Murat's phone, adding: "They have been questioning everybody in his phone book."

After spending two hours at his apartment, plain clothes officers carried out two hard drives, a laptop and a black bin bag.

Joao Marques, a local businessman who uses Mr Malinka's IT services, described him as an "honest, normal young man".

Mr Murat, who had helped police with translation work, was questioned by detectives for 12 hours and his mother's villa was searched.

He was later given "arguido" status by police, which means he is officially a suspect - although he can request this status himself.

Officers later released Mr Murat, saying they did not have the evidence to formally arrest or charge anybody.

Mr Murat, who previously was based with his ex-wife in Hockering, Norfolk, has recently been living with his mother Jenny, 71, at her villa, Casa Liliana, in Praia da Luz.

On Thursday posters protesting his innocence were put up around Hockering.

Rewards of ?2.5m have been offered to anyone with information leading to the four-year-old's safe return.

Details of how to donate to the Madeleine fighting fund - at banks, by post or via the internet - can be found at


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