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Six months and counting

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Six months ago today the first reports came in of the kidnap of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout, freelance photographer Nigel Brennan and their fixers and driver. The team were reportedly abducted just outside Mogadishu. The fixer and driver were subsequently released, but Lindhout and Brennan remain hostage.

A ransom demand of $100,000 was recently reported, down from an alleged $2.5 million some months earlier. There were also reports of an attempted escape, but since then there has been no news.

British journalist Colin Freeman and Spanish photographer José Cendón were also kidnapped in Somalia on November 26, 2008. They were reporting on pirates in Bosasso. However they were released some six weeks later. While I hope for a speedy release of Lindhout and Brennan, I do sometimes wonder whether there is one rule for freelancers and one for staffers in these situations.

The above interactive dipity graphic is a timeline of the Lindhout/Brennan kidnap created from news reports. I will continue to update it as and when I receive any news updates.

UPDATE: There is an online petition to put pressure on the Canadian and Australian governments to help to finally pay the bloody ransom and free the two freelancers.


Gerard White | May 5, 2009 3:28 AM

Of course there are different rules of Freelancers, Local Staff and those more fortunate to have KRI like the seamen who are a reliable currency.
The good news is that Amanda and Nigel are probably being quite well looked after under the circumstances, albeit with limited food rations, no air conditioning, limited water and the constant threat of death. The bad news is that their plight is entirely in the hands of the Canadian and Australian governments who between them couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery.
The kidnappers must be becoming somewhat weary with the negotiations and whilst that can be very dangerous in a country where life has no value, Amanda and Nigel do have a value and they realise that the failure to meet their demands is not in Amanda and Nigels hands.
All these people expressing their concerns should come up with a plan B. In my opinion there is only one safe course of action. Employ a recognised and professional Hostage Release Negotiator to work directly on behalf of Amanda and Nigels family. Nothing should be done without their respective families consent.
Having had a friend kidnapped and successfully released under similar circumstances I very much sympathise with the plight of Amanda and Nigel, their families, friends and well wishes. It is very frustrating.
It does appear Nigel & Amanda have been held longer than any other hostage which suggests the respective governments are not able to reach an agreement on how to proceed.
I would suggest that family members contact an authoritative and independent hostage negotiation professional who has no attachment to either government.
Hostage UK http://www.hostageuk.org/ is a not for profit organisation which offers console and advice to friends and families of hostage victims. They are a small organisation so please don't deluge them. They have wonderful people who can and do help, one person in particular Sue Williams ex head of the Hostage negotiation unit for Scotland Yard can bring an experienced, cool and authoritative assessment to the situation and has actually made things happen in over 200 similar cases. Others include Terry Waite who was held hostage for 5 years also many friends and family who have experienced similar circumstances volunteer their experience.

I hope that someone reading this message can bring it to the attention of Amanda and Nigels families. They may contact me directly and I am prepared to help or offer advice.

I believe Amanda and Nigel will be freed having gained enormous insights from their experience and will both become experts advisers to other families and friends of future victims and their families.

You know, the Somalis don't wear watches, they have nothing but time but apart from the fact that every teenager has a Kalashnikov or RPG and people get killed on a regular basis, they are actually good people living in the most appalling circumstances. If only we could give them a chance, stop polluting their waters, stop supporting Ethiopian aggressors, stop supplying war lords and other gangsters, stop supporting unpopular governments who act in our interest and not that of the Somalis people, the Somali people could well flourish. I mean lets face it they are tough, prepared to take chances and do whatever it takes to feed their families in a lot more desperate circumstances than any but a few can ever begin to understand. We should stop thinking about Amanda and Nigel as the victims of this tragedy. Amanda and Nigel are caught up in something which they sought greater understanding of. They now have that understanding. Lets do what can be done to help them now have the freedom the require to put their experience to good use by raising the issues and circumstances of the Somali people to the wider world.
Piracy, Kidnapping and abduction are a direct result of our governments dumping toxic waste off the coast of Somalia, our support for warring parties and our failure to respect the wishes of Somali peoples.
That is what Amanda and Nigel set out to do. Had they not had the opportunity of an extended stay they might never have achieved their goal. When they were living in Mog the were paying for their own security to protect them from precisely the people who are now providing their security and who have a vested interest in securing their release.
To you guys holding Amanda Linhout and Nigel Bremmer. They are non combatants, not even NGO, Amanda and Nigel are in their own way there to try and help you. They are now in a better position to properly represent and report the reality of Somalia. There are many people in the world myself included who will support Amanda and Nigel to tell the truth. The benefits which you can now win though good will far exceed financial benefits. If you insist on cash you might consider contacting Sue directly I know you are capable of doing that.

Anonymous | May 10, 2009 6:05 AM

Dear Gerard

I have sent your letter on to my sister and brother-in-law, the mother and father of Nigel. I have to agree with your comments about the two governments - so far they seem to have chosen to be totally impotent. Amanda and Nigel are off the radar in Australia although many of our friends(people who have never met them)ask about them regularly.

I can only endorse your comments to the captors.

A concerned aunt