Amanda Lindhout back in Alberta

A family spokesman says freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout has returned with her parents to Alberta.

Central Alberta's Amanda Lindhout

The Canadian and Australian freelance journalists held for ransom in Somalia are back in their respective countries, both pleading for privacy as they continue to recover from 15 months spent in brutal and squalid conditions.

Confirmation that Lindhout had returned home to Alberta came in a email from a family spokeswoman Wednesday.

“The family will provide further updates when they are ready and we ask the media to respect their continued wish for privacy until such a time,” the statement said.

Photographer Nigel Brennan, who returned to Australia on Sunday, spoke briefly with reporters Wednesday saying that while he was in Somalia to highlight the plight of those less fortunate, in hindsight, it was a risk he maybe shouldn’t have taken.

“I’m personally distressed at the grief and heartache I have caused, but my motives were honourable,” he said.

“It’s hard to believe I’m standing here safe on Australian soil. I must confess there were times when I wondered if this moment would ever come.”

Brennan said he was looking forward to spending time with his family and asked for privacy while he continued to recover.

Nigel Brennan and Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout were kidnapped by gunmen on Aug. 23, 2008. They were released Nov. 25 after a ransom was paid.

Reports have put the amount at anywhere from US$500,000 to $1 million.

The two journalists were kept isolated from one another for large portions of the time. In an interview shortly after her release, Lindhout said she was beaten and tortured by her captors.

Brennan said he would not have been able to survive without Lindhout.

“Even though for the most part we were completely isolated from each other, just knowing you were through the wall or down the corridor was an unbelievable comfort,” he said.

Journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted for ransom in Somalia, one of the world’s poorest countries and mired in anarchy since 1991.

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