Efforts continue to free Lindhout

There’s nothing new, officially, on the status of kidnapped Central Alberta journalist Amanda Lindhout — although the Internet continues to circulate troubling rumours.

There’s nothing new, officially, on the status of kidnapped Central Alberta journalist Amanda Lindhout — although the Internet continues to circulate troubling rumours.

The latest unsubstantiated report from the Jijad Watch: Somalia website quotes unnamed sources alleging that Lindhout had been abused by her abductors.

Federal Foreign Affairs spokesman Andre Lemay would only say on Thursday that the government is aware of different media reports and will continue to pursue all appropriate channels to seek further information about Lindhout’s welfare.

“We will not comment or release any information which may compromise these efforts and jeopardize the safety of a Canadian or other citizen,” he said, reiterating the department’s standard position.

Lindhout, a freelancer, had been providing stories to the Advocate from Iraq and Africa. Her father Jon Lindhout lives in Sylvan Lake and her mother, Lorinda Stewart, lives in B.C.

Foreign Affairs has been trying to assist the Lindhout family in securing the journalist’s safe release, as well as that of Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan, since the pair were abducted eight months ago.

Former Red Deer MP Bob Mills, who has acted as a spokesman for the Lindhout family, hadn’t heard about the alleged abuse, and said he can only hope this report is false.

In the past, hostages held for ransom by Somali abductors have been treated humanely because the objective has always been about getting money, said Mills, who has doubted previous Internet rumours.

Lindhout and Brennan were abducted at gunpoint on Aug. 23 between Mogadishu and a refugee camp in Afgoye. The kidnappers soon demanded a ransom of $2.5 million. They also captured a Somali comrade who was with them, but he has since been released unharmed.

Jihad Watch also claimed Lindhout and Brennan had briefly escaped from the house in which they were being held in Mogadishu’s Suqa Holaha neighbourhood, fleeing to a nearby mosque, where they were recaptured. But Mills said no one was able to substantiate this story.

Meanwhile, the Edmonton-based Alberta Somali Community Association has considered putting Lindhout’s continued captivity on the agenda for a May 10 town hall meeting being planned to publicize the plight of Bashir Makhtal. The Ontarian, of Ethiopian descent, has been jailed in Ethiopia for the past two years on allegations of terrorism, but has never been charged.

Mahamad Accord, executive director of the association, said he first wants an OK from Lindhout’s family, as he wouldn’t want to further jeopardize the journalist.

Lindhout’s parents have not publicly commented on the abduction on the advice of Foreign Affairs. And Mills doubts they would approve of the Somali association taking up her cause.

“The family is happy with what Foreign Affairs is doing.”

lmichelin@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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