Canadian journalist freed
after 15 months in captivity
Albertan, Australian colleague abducted
while on assignment in Africa
Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and
an Australian colleague were freed today after being held
captive in Somalia for 15 months.
Lindhout, 28, a broadcast and print
journalist, was a freelance contributor to the Red Deer
Advocate, where the editorial department is represented
by the Media & Communications
Workers of Alberta (CWA Canada Local 30400).
Hundreds of CWA Canada members recently added their names
to a petition to the Canadian government to do more to win
the release of Lindhout and photographer Nigel Brennan, who
were kidnapped near Mogadishu on Aug. 23, 2008.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
(CJFE) had been closely monitoring the case and led the campaign
that gathered more than 1,000 signatures.
"It's wonderful to hear that the long ordeal is over — the
longest period of captivity for a Canadian journalist," said
Arnold Amber, CJFE President. "We look forward to having
her back home in Canada."
Lindhout, in a telephone interview
this afternoon with CTV News Channel, said the kidnappers
turned them over to the Somalia government after a ranson
was paid for their release and that money "was paid
by our families."
Iranian television reported in October 2008 that their abductors
had threatened to kill Lindhout and Brennan if a $2.5-million
ransom were not paid by the end of that month.
This past summer, a woman claiming to be Lindhout phoned
Canadian television networks pleading for the Canadian government
to help bring her home.
The parents of the captive journalists
issued a statement in August saying they were continuing
to work tirelessly to free the pair "with little outside
Lindhout told CTV today that her 15-month
ordeal was "extremely
oppressive." She said she was kept by herself at all
times and had no one to speak to. "There were times
that I was beaten, that I was tortured. It was an extremely,
extremely difficult situation."
She said she is eager now to return
home to her family in Sylvan Lake in central Alberta. "I have to sit down
and re-evaluate my whole life," she said.
The Baghdad-based writer and photojournalist who has significant
experience reporting from the world's trouble spots, including
Iraq and Afghanistan, was on a tour of Africa when armed
men ambushed their vehicle. A Somali journalist who was serving
as a fixer for Lindhout and Brennan, and two drivers were
also abducted. The fixer and the drivers were released in