Canada ‘does not and will not’ pay ransom to terrorists, Trudeau says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making it clear that Canada "does not and will not" pay ransom to terrorists.

KANANASKIS — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making it clear that Canada “does not and will not” pay ransom to terrorists.

Trudeau is responding to more questions about the death of Canadian John Ridsdel, who was killed Monday by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines after more than six months of captivity.

The prime minister says ransom payments are a key source of funding for terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim insurgent group.

He says they also endanger the lives of the millions of Canadians who live, work and travel in various parts of the globe.

Nonetheless, the question of whether governments acquiesce to the demands of terror groups is likely to remain an open one.

An al-Qaida letter obtained by The Associated Press three years ago suggests about $1 million was paid for the release of Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler in Niger in 2009.

Fowler, the highest-ranking United Nations official in the African country, and his colleague Louis Guay, were kidnapped and held for four months before being released.

The news agency did not indicate who provided the $1 million for Fowler and Guay.

In a published memoir, Fowler said he did not know if a ransom was paid.

However, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported the deal — brokered by several Western nations working through African intermediaries — involved a prisoner swap and multimillion-dollar payment.

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable from February 2010 lent credence to the notion Canada makes payments, quoting Washington’s then-ambassador to Mali as saying “it is difficult to level criticism on countries like Mali and Burkina Faso for facilitating negotiations when the countries that pay ransom, like Austria and Canada, are given a pass.”

Journalist Amanda Lindhout, a native of Red Deer, Alta., and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were seized by young gunmen near strife-torn Mogadishu, Somalia, in August 2008. Both were released in November 2009 after their families paid a ransom.

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