Australian photographer Nigel Brennan says he’s appreciative of an Ontario judge calling him “heroic” as a guilty verdict was handed down in the Amanda Lindhout kidnapping case, but he says he was “never going to leave her behind” even if he was given the opportunity to do so.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith handed down the verdict against Ali Omar Ader on Wednesday after a 10-day trial.
Brennan said in a Skype interview Wednesday he learned the news after receiving texts from his “point of contact” with the RCMP.
“From my point of view, it was a fairly horrific thing that I had to go through and my family had to go through … so I’m pleased this has gone through the process,” he said.
In August 2008, he and Lindhout were seized by armed men in Mogadishu, beginning 15 months in captivity for the pair. They were released upon payment of a ransom.
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As Smith read his decision, he called Brennan “heroic” for refusing to leave Lindhout behind even though enough money had been secured for his release.
Asked about the judge’s remarks, the photographer said he appreciated the words.
“I wasn’t aware that the judge had called me heroic,” he said. “I was just doing what I thought I had to do and that was to protect Amanda as a fellow hostage in captivity. So I was never going to leave her behind even if I was given the opportunity to be released. It’s very kind for the judge to use those words.”
Ader’s arrest and conviction was a result of a multi-year police investigation that involved luring Ader to Canada under the premise of a book deal about Somalia.
Ader met a business agent — actually an undercover Mountie — whom he had developed a business relationship with on the island of Mauritius and, according to the Mountie, spoke freely of helping the hostage-takers in return for US$10,000 in ransom money.
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With the trial now over and the verdict handed down, Brennan said he was looking forward to discovering more about how Ader was lured to Canada.
He said he was not aware of the tactics used by the RCMP to bring Ader to Canada and was told by the Mounties they could not reveal that information until the verdict.
In terms of his communication with Lindhout, Brennan said since the verdict they had not been in touch.
“Since the ordeal, we’ve kept in contact for the first 18 months very closely and then I guess as time’s gone on that has sort of stopped,” he said. “Before the trial, Amanda sent me an email and since the verdict I haven’t heard anything from her.”
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Since being released, Brennan has become a father and he said that following what occurred “you can be a victim or you can be a survivor” and he decided to be a survivor and move on with his life and had a son in the past eight years.
— With files from