CPJ welcomes arrest of suspect behind Somali kidnapping

New York, June 12, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the arrest in Canada on Thursday of Ali Omar Ader, a Somali allegedly involved in the 2008 kidnapping of journalists Amanda Lindhout, Nigel Brennan, and Abdifatah Mohamed Elmi, a Somali fixer and photojournalist. Ali, who appeared briefly in court in Ottawa today, is alleged to be the main negotiator of the kidnappers and faces hostage-taking charges, according to a statement by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“We applaud the diligence and persistence of the Canadian police in pursuing justice for these three journalists, who endured an unimaginable ordeal for trying to keep the world informed about events in Somalia,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine. “We urge other governments in Africa and abroad to rigorously investigate attacks against journalists and to bring all perpetrators to book.”

Lindhout, a Canadian freelancer, and Brennan, an Australian photojournalist, were taken hostage with Abdifatah at gunpoint in Mogadishu in August 2008, according to The Associated Press. Abdifatah was released after five months, according to reports. The journalists said they were kept separately during their kidnapping, beaten, and Lindhout was sexually abused, according to reports. Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, according to CPJ research. It ranks second on CPJ’s annual Impunity Index which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free.