The Mounties have charged a Somali man in connection with the 2008 hostage-taking of Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout.
OTTAWA—The Mounties have charged a Somali man in connection with the 2008 hostage-taking of Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout.
By Bruce Campion-Smith Ottawa Bureau
Friday, June 12, 2015
Ali Omar Ader was arrested Thursday in Ottawa and charged with the unlawful confinement of Lindhout, who was taken hostage with Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan while travelling in Somalia.
Lindhout and Brennan were taken hostage near Mogadishu, Somalia, on Aug. 23, 2008 and held until their release on Nov. 25, 2009. Lindhout would later tell of her ordeal while in captivity, where she was locked in an animal shed, chained around her ankles and routinely beaten.
On Friday, the RCMP alleged that Ader was one of the main negotiators for the group that had snatched the pair.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, who heads federal policing operations, said the complex seven-year investigation leading to Ader’s arrest involved undercover agents, wiretaps and surveillance.
Adding to the challenge was the fact that Ader was located in Somalia.
“This investigation posed a number of significant challenges as it was carried out in an extremely high-risk environment in a country plagued with political instability,” he said.
“The evidence we were able to gather allowed us to confirm and demonstrate that he was one of the negotiators within the group that was involved in this,’ he told a brief news conference Friday morning.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney praised the RCMP for its work.
“I want to congratulate the RCMP team that did this operation and also it’s a very clear message sent this morning to anyone who wants to attack Canadian citizens will face the law and they will have to face Canadian justice,” Blaney told reporters.
He said the investigation was focused on the “kidnapping and rape of a Canadian woman.” Lindhout has previously spoken about being sexually assaulted during her time in captivity.
Ader was formally arrested in Ottawa but Malizia refused to provide details of how he got there or whether he had been taken out of Somalia by Canadian officials.
“I can tell you without going into too many details regarding the undercover operation that he was in Canada and had been here for a few days and we proceeded to arrest him right here in Ottawa,” Malizia said.
Ader, a Somali national who does not live in Canada, stood emotionless with his arms behind his back during a brief court appearance by video link Friday, according to a Canadian Press report. His case was adjourned until next Friday.
His lawyer Samir Adam had little to say about the surprise arrest.
“We have very little information we can relay to you with confidence,” he said, according to Canadian Press. “Because it’s so early in the process, we’re not really able to comment.”
Malizia said the police force had “great support” from the department of foreign affairs and other federal agencies. But he pointedly refused to say whether the Somali government knew about the investigation or even provided any assistance.
Malizia said he had been in touch with Lindhout to tell her about the arrest. He praised her resilience and the detailed witness statements provided by both of them.