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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Free At last


Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout has been freed in Somalia after 15 months in captivity, along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan.
In a telephone interview from Mogadishu on Wednesday afternoon, Lindhout told CTV News Channel that she had only been freed for a few hours and provided minimal details on the process that led to her release. Lindhout acknowledged that a ransom was paid to her and Brennan's kidnappers, and that money "was paid by our families."
"I believe they are taking that money and, as far as I understand, they plan on leaving the country," she told News Channel.
"It's a long story. It's been sort of going on for the last couple of weeks, and tonight finally everything came together and the men who had kidnapped us turned us over to the federal government in Somalia. They've now taken us to a hotel and it sounds like tomorrow, we'll be in Nairobi," Lindhout said.
Lindhout, originally from Sylvan Lake, Alta., and Brennan have been missing since August 23, 2008, when they were kidnapped near Mogadishu.
She remembered the day she was kidnapped and described the circumstances to CTV.
"I was going to research a story about some of the IDTs -- the internally-displaced people -- in Somalia and on our way there one morning, our vehicle was ambushed and we were taken by a group of gunmen who then proceeded to take us around the country and keep us in different houses, extremely oppressive conditions, myself and another freelance photographer from Australia (Brennan)," Lindhout said.
She said she knew little about her kidnappers.
"I don't think it was political -- you know 15 months with these men and I don't know very much about them. But I think, from the information that I've gathered, I think that it was criminals -- criminals under the guise of being freedom fighters for Somalia."
Lindhout said she was beaten and tortured while in captivity.
"It was extremely oppressive. I was kept by myself at all times. I had no one to speak to. I was normally kept in a room with a light, no window, I had nothing to write on or with. There was very little food. I was allowed to use the toilet exactly five times a day," Lindhout said.
"So, basically, my day was sitting on a corner, on the floor, 24 hours a day for the last 15 months. There were times that I was beaten, that I was tortured. It was an extremely, extremely difficult situation."
The kidnappers told her that they were beating her because the money "wasn't coming quickly enough."
"They seemed to think that if they beat me enough, then when I was able to speak to my mother - which they would put me on the line with her every couple of months - that I would be able to say the right thing to convince her to pay the ransom for me, which was $1 million.
"Of course, my family didn't have $1 million and it didn't matter what I said to them. But they didn't really understand that. They thought: She's Canadian, everyone in Canada is rich. She must have $1 million."
The phone calls to her mother were "very short and they were usually scripted on my part," Lindhout said.
"My mother wasn't allowed to ask any questions and I also wasn't allowed to say what I wanted to say. They would come to me beforehand with a pen and paper, and sort of guide me and tell me what I needed to say to her. And it was always wonderful to hear my mother's voice but the circumstances that we were talking were not very happy."
She acknowledged that she was forced to call media outlets.
"That was another one of their ideas to get money. They always had in their mind that if my family wasn't going to pay, that the government wasn't going to pay. And of course, the Canadian government does not pay ransom, but they thought that if they kept trying and using the media, that eventually the government would pay my ransom."
Lindhout believes she was held in at least 11 different houses, in Mogadishu and in areas south of the city.
She said that she never felt any sympathy for her captors, and additionally, that it is unlikely that they will be caught.
"Because Somalia is a completely lawless country, really," Lindhout said. "It would be easy for them to disappear into the country and I don't think we ever really the saw the leaders of this, so we would never be able to identify them and I think they'll be able to leave the country, which is what I think they are planning on doing easily."
Through her ordeal, Lindhout said she went through "some pretty dark moments."
"I think human beings have an enormous capacity to adjust to trying circumstances and it was the idea of coming home, a reunion with my family, that kept me going," Lindhout said.
"In that darkness, I would just try to escape in my mind to a sunny place, usually Vancouver -- in my mind -- I would imagine running around Stanley Park and things like that, and that kept me going."
Moving forward, Lindhout hopes to reunite with her family, at which point she plans to "sit down and reevaluate my whole life."
"I just want to take the next couple of months and spend it with my family."
It was only through her family's "tireless efforts," that she is still alive and has been freed from captivity, Lindhout said.

48 comments:

  1. I have followed this story since last year and I am so happy to hear that Amanda was freed! I don't know her but I'm glad she will be able to return home to her family.

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  2. It is great to finally read that Linda has been released. It just too bad that our government doesn't know the word "speedy"?
    It's very good news to know that Linda is coming back to Sylvan. Welcome Home Linda!!!!

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  3. This is fabulous news. As an Alberta-based journalist myself, I've followed Amanda's situation from the beginning. She has gone through horrors that would test even the strongest people, and I can only hope that being home, with caring family and friends, will help her recover emotionally and physically as rapidly as possible. I hope one day to have the privilege to meet Amanda, buy her a drink (she may need a few) share stories.
    I wish her and her family a happy reunion, and, at long last, peace of mind.

    Best, Anthony Davis

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  4. Congratulations to Amanda on making it through. Hopefully she will heal and learn from the mistake. It's important for all western women, fathers, brothers to realize that although women have made equal status in Canada, this is not the case in most countries in the world. I would lock my daughter in the basement before letting her go to an Islamic and lawless hell on earth like Somalia. If you do really have to go on these missions, realize the danger, cover yourself up and don't expect these savages to be gentlemen when you are flashing your pearly whites and batting your eyes. It was almost a certainty she would be raped, killed or held for ransom when she went there. Who is this idiot Australian reporter that went with her.. He's a guy,, he should have known the risks. Does she look like a rich girl to you.

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  5. You were prayed for always, Carol

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  6. When your feet touch Canadian soil, you will feel the spoken sentiment - "Welcome home."

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  7. Welcome home, Amanda.

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  8. I've been following Amanda's story and am Beyond happy to hear that she has been released.
    I cannot imagine what they put her through or what she has had to deal with in the past 15 months. More than most people could handle I'm sure.
    You're an amazing person for hanging in there Amanda and toughing it out through that hell.
    I hope your life only leads you to Love and happiness from now on.

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  9. As my mother would have said, when you die you won't have to go to hell, you've been there and survived. Only good things await you from this point on. You deserve nothing but the best henceforth.

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  10. Welcome home, Amanda!
    I have tears in my eyes as I write this. Our family has followed your story since the beginning and we can hardly imagine what you and your loved ones must feeling right now. Your strength is amazing and we join all Canadians in rejoicing in your safe return!
    Happiness, love and light to you,
    Lynne (and family), Calgary

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  11. OMG so happy!!!!!!

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  12. We need journalists like you, Amanda. Your determination, spirit, and strenghth keeps our government accountable. As an Albertan, and female journalist myself, I will say that I am very proud of you. I'm so happy you are coming home.

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  13. God Bless you and your family Amanda. It brings warmpth to our hearts knowing that you will be home soon. Love always.

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  14. I feel so relieved to know finally she is safe. I cannot believe how my heart has been effected by this. She has shown that internal strength and belief in freedom will give you the will to survive. Happiness will be fulfilled when she finally arrives on Canadian soil.. My heart goes out to her and her family. Barry

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  15. 700,000$ for such a low-quality human being is a staggering amount to fork over!

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  16. My heart jumps for joy hearing that Amanda has been finally released and is on her way to the safety and love of her home and family! For someone to show the great strength and courage that she, the otehr journalist and their families have shown is an example to human streangth and i wish all of them all the best in the future, welcome home Amanda!! All the best in the future.

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  17. Welcome home. Please take some time for you and family and to heal. Please stay here in safety.
    God Bless you today and always.

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  18. I am so happy for you and your family!!! I will be praying for your healing and your family. God bless you always.

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  19. I have been worried about you since I heard your plea for help on the news this summer Amanda. I feared the worst and hearing your voice brought tears to my eyes. I am so relieved and happy that you have been freed. Please get home quickly and safely and stay clear of future danger. May you have a long wonderful life and never live in fear again. Take care and good luck.

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  20. I hope now that Amanda has been released you relinquish this domain name to Amanda Lindhout and cease trying to take advantage of her ordeal.

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  21. Why didn't the canadian government act quickly? She has been released only after all the money were gone to those disgusting thugs.

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  22. at last!! mixed emotions, so many days where nigel and amanda were on my mind.. a big relief to say the least

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  23. I am so delighted that you and Nigel have been freed. I have thought of you since I heard of your story and can't imagine what you have gone through. How wonderful it must have been to be greeted by loving family hugs.

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  24. WELCOME HOME AMANDA!!!

    And to the posters who have nothing better to say, get a life. It's a shame that a ransom had to be paid, when we should've just exchanged losers like you instead. Canada would be better off with more people like Amanda, and less of the likes of you. Piss off.

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  25. Dirk Funk...the fact that you had it in you to say something that despicable, shows just how low-quality of a human being you are, not worth even a penny

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  26. I did push for you any way I could to get you help and am so happy that the fallout was the happiest one...

    WELCOME HOME AMANDA!

    Enjoy the most loving, happy Christmas holiday with your family and friends!

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  27. First of all Welcome HOME!! Second,If our government paid ransoms, all traveling Canadians would be at risk of being held hostage. It is also my understanding that this is not the first time that Amanda has been held captive.

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  28. Did she or did she not have a kid with those scumbag Muslims? And if so, why?

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  29. I am so happy to hear you were freed. And I'm sure I'm not the only Somali that would ask that you forgive those who treated you so brutely as they know not any better.

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  30. Stay out of business that isnt yours.

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  31. I admire Amanda for reporting on some of the most horrible conflicts in the world. It is only because we know what goes on that we are motivated to change the world. Her work is at the very root of social and political movements that lead, in time, to peace. Amanda is going to need a lot of listening, even though she may not find the words to describe her feelings and what she went through. It's going to be difficult to give her all the attention she needs while giving her at the same time all the space she needs. To heal her extraordinary experience will require extraordinary patience . I wish you peace of mind.

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  32. Amanda got her story, but at quite a cost, both in cash and in suffering. I am happy she is free. But please don't blame the Canadian Government. They warned everyone to stay out of Somalia, it's dangerous and if you go there
    you are on your own. This was clear. As a taxpayer, I do not want to subsidize other people's risky behavior in dangerous lands. That said, Amanda must have a very interesting story to tell.

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  33. Amanda, I shed tears for you as I prayed for your safe return and searched for any information I could find about your plight. Then I cried tears of joy when I heard about your release! May God bless you now and in the days to come, and bring healing to your mind, body and spirit as you enjoy your new-found freedom!

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  34. liberal-minded-conservative-voting-christianNovember 28, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    totally agree with the comment a couple spaces up regarding not subsidizing people's personal choices of risky behaviour. don't blame the government and say they should have "sped things up"...it is advised against going there by the gov, they don't want anyone to be encouraged to go there unprepared. I am very happy for her and her family she returned safely, and i really hope that she heals and the degree of abuse wasn't severe. One can question certain people's motives regarding entering a world hotspot, though, and although i dont know hers, the photos of her throughout the world which are online as well as some of her reporting sort of alludes to a bit of a glory-seeker. just my personal opinion, and get bent everyone who makes comments about "Islam" and "Muslim" hellholes...good attitude about ignoring the parts of the earth which don't agree with your little world..religion really has nothing to do with the majority of their circumstances

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  37. Great news that Amanda and Nigel are out. Those insulted somalis and the muslim world are good matches for the hostage takers. Narrow minded egoist bunch.... their action can not be generalized....it is a dangerous curve. Look what kind of soridid crimes take place in you area.
    Is a specific nation to be blamed...we blame individual(s).

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  38. Did this site help Amanda & her Family?

    Or did it hurt them?

    Why have a blog that only benefits the kidnappers?

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  39. Great effort by Nigel's family and Dick Smith for providing the money for their release.

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  40. Great effort by Nigel's family, Amanda's family, and everyone else who stepped up with donations of time and money to secure their release. I hope they are both able to find some sort of peace in their lives and are able to move forward now.

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  41. Amanda, pluck those bushy Somalian-esque eyebrows and call me!

    -Lamce Romance

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  42. Great news!
    Have been following your situation for 15 months and praying for you.
    Tony: the priest at the Mustafa in Kabul

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  43. Did they let you watch Family Guy while you were there? Cuz if not you missed some good episodes! Also, Tiger Woods has been banging a bunch of chicks, just trying to keep you updated!

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  44. To think what that 700,000$ could of gone towards instead of freeing a journalist that knew she shouldnt of been there in the first place. Did anyone watch her reports on Somalia before this whole kidnapping ordeal? Risking her life for reports that no one watched, so very vey sad.

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  45. welcome home amanda hope you like the snow J.D Edson AB. merry x.mas

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  46. I'm truly Sorry for what you have both gone true.luckly you are back in one piece so WELCOME again.

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  47. Amanda,
    I just watched your speech in calgary.

    I died every day you were gone and still, that wouldn't be what you felt or went through ....those many days in somalia. i wished that I could take all your pain away. I would if I could only have you escape a second of your experience.

    You are one of the most beautiful people I have never met....I want to meet you. I love the strength you have. I love the person that you are, putting yourself out in harms way for the truth. No words can describe your qualities that you must have and what you've endured................ I just want to say that I want to be there for you, as a friend. For anything that you can release to me.

    forever concerned and sincere,

    rob
    marm.chalus@gmail.com

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