EDMONTON — A year after Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped in Somalia, her family members have given a rare glimpse into their ordeal.
In a statement, the families of Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, said they’re working tirelessly for the release of their loved ones.
“With little outside support, the families —who have been united as one throughout this horrendous ordeal — continue to do everything and anything to gain the earliest possible release for their loved ones Amanda and Nigel,” the statement said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the statement’s reference to “little outside support” was criticism aimed at the Canadian and Australian governments.
None of Lindhout’s family members could immediately be reached for comment.
Rodney Moore, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs in Canada, said in an interview Saturday that the federal government continues to pursue all “appropriate channels” to seek further information about the welfare of both journalists.
“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 from Ottawa.
“Good judgement and caution are called for in reporting on a situation where lives may be at risk,” he said.
Lindhout, 28, a freelance journalist from Sylvan Lake who provided international coverage for the Red Deer Advocate and other media outlets, was kidnapped along with Brennan near Mogadishu on Aug. 23, 2008.
In a phone call to Canada’s OMNI TV earlier this month, a woman claiming to be Lindhout appealed to the Canadian government to do everything possible to obtain her release.
Last month, Brennan’s mother, Heather, confronted Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd over how long it’s taking to negotiate her son’s release, but Lindhout’s family has repeatedly declined to speak publicly about her kidnapping.
Lindhout’s family has remained silent since her capture. As late as last weekend, Lindhout’s father, Jon Lindhout, sent a message to The Canadian Press asking that stories on the anniversary of her capture not be done for fear it would make the situation worse, but issued the statement late Friday.
Dennis Trudeau, a vice-president with Reporters Without Borders Canada, suggested the situation is a delicate one.
“Usually in Somalia, these things have not gone on so long, although we’re a bit mystified as to why this has gone on so long,” he said in an interview from Montreal.
He said the organization does what it can to support the families of the two kidnapped journalists, and supports what the Canadian and other governments may be doing to negotiate an end to this situation.
“It’s a very tough place to operate, Somalia. They’re one of the most chaotic and disorganized states in the world, if not the most chaotic, so it’s a very tough situation,” Trudeau said.
But all parties must still tread carefully when it comes to public comments that are made about Lindhout and Brennan, Trudeau suggested.
“I don’t think anyone thinks negotiating in the media is a good idea,” he said.