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Somali gets prison in Canada for journalists’ kidnapping

June 18, 2018

A Canadian judge on Monday sentenced a Somali national to 15 years in prison for his role in the 2008 kidnapping of a Canadian and an Australian journalist.

Ali Omar Ader, 40, was arrested in 2015 after being lured to Canada by federal police acting as publishers offering him a lucrative book deal. In December, he was found guilty of hostage-taking.

Under the terms of the sentence, Ader will be eligible for parole in nine years.

Amanda Lindhout,37, and Nigel Brennan, 46, were working as freelance journalists when they were abducted near Mogadishu as they travelled to camps housing refugees who had fled fighting in the lawless Somali capital.

They were released after 15 months captivity in November, 2009, an ordeal that resulted in severe post-traumatic stress from which they still suffer.

Ader initially denied any significant involvement in the kidnappings, but later apologized for his crimes.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith ruled he was a “willing participant” in the plot to kidnap the pair.

Ader’s claim during the trial that he had been forced to serve as a negotiator and translator for a criminal gang was “completely unbelievable,” the judge said.

Kidnapping foreigners at that time was rampant in Somalia, a country in the Horn of Africa that has been ravaged by cycles of devastating violence and lawlessness.

Ader made telephone calls to the hostages’ families in Canada and Australia to demand a ransom for their release.

At one point he arranged a call to Lindhout’s mother to let her hear her daughter’s screams as she was held with a knife pressed to her throat.

Lindhout, a Canadian, wept at the trial as she recalled being beaten and tortured by her captors.

Brennan, the Australian, has recounted being pistol-whipped and chained for months, hearing Lindhout’s screams from torture in an adjoining room.

Both said in statements to the court that they continue to suffer from nightmares and panic attacks.

Lindhout said she also has been unable to sleep, eat properly and sustain friendships.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.