Somalia - Anniversary of abduction of Canadian and Australian journalists



    MONTREAL, Aug. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Two foreign freelance journalists are
about to complete a year in captivity. Canadian reporter Amanda Lindhout and
Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were taken hostage by an armed group as
they were returning to Mogadishu from Afgoye refugee camp, 20 km west of the
Somali capital, on 23 August 2008.
    "We are very worried about these two hostages, given the length of their
ordeal and the extreme dangers prevailing in Somalia," Reporters Without
Borders said. "We reiterate our support for their families and we hope they
will be released without delay."
    At the time of their abduction, Lindhout and Brennan were being
accompanied by Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi, a Somali freelance journalist who was
their fixer and interpreter, and two Somali drivers, Mahad Isse and Marwali.
    Elmi and the two drivers were released on the night of 15 January, after
being held for 177 days. Elmi said he was separated from Lindhout and Brennan
immediately after their capture.
    A woman claiming to be Lindhout called CTV headquarters in Toronto on 10
June and appealed to the Canadian government to do everything possible to
obtain her release. In tears, she said she was being held in appalling
conditions.
    "I'm being kept in a dark, windowless room in chains without any clean
drinking water and very little food or no food," the caller said. "I've been
very sick for months without any medicine." A similar call was made to OMNI
Television, another Canadian TV station, at the end of July.
    The kidnappers have been demanding a ransom, the size of which has
changed over the months. Rumours have circulated about the hostages but
Reporters Without Borders has been unable to confirm any of them. According to
one rumour, Lindhout was pregnant and several Somali sources have said in the
past two months that she gave birth to a boy.

    Here is the statement of both families :

    "Together, the two families continue to work tirelessly to secure Nigel's
and Amanda's safe release. With little outside support, the families, who have
been united as one throughout this horrendous ordeal, continue to do
everything and anything to gain the earliest possible release for their loved
ones Amanda and Nigel. Our thoughts and all our love are with Amanda and
Nigel, today, just as they have been for the past 365 days, and just as they
will be until they are safely home with us.
    In issuing this brief joint statement the families hope that the media
will respect their wishes to be left alone during this particularly emotional
time."




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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