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Canadian Captured in Afghanistan Five Years Ago Is Free

"We look forward to Mr. Rutherford being able to return to Canada and reunite with his family and loved ones," said the Canadian foreign affairs minister on Monday.
January 11, 2016, 11:45pm
Image via YouTube

Five years after he was taken hostage in Afghanistan and four years after he appeared on a video saying he was being "treated humanely" by the Taliban, Canadian Colin Rutherford is a free man.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion confirmed the release in a statement on Monday.

"Canada is very pleased that efforts undertaken to secure the release of Colin Rutherford from captivity have been successful," Dion said.

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"We look forward to Mr. Rutherford being able to return to Canada and reunite with his family and loved ones."

He also expressed his thanks to the government of Qatar for its help on the file. Qatar's ambassador to Ottawa, Fahad Mohamed Kafoud, told the National Post that "a lot of people were working behind the scenes" to secure the Canadian's release, and that "it wasn't easy." But Kafoud was adamant that no money changed hands.

Qatar also played a role in brokering the release of US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, whose story is now the subject of the popular podcast Serial.

A US Special Forces officer told a US Senate committee hearing last year that while trying to find Bergdahl, he had learned that Rutherford was being held in Pakistan along with another Canadian Joshua Boyle and his American wife Caitlin Coleman.

"Colin Rutherford, Joshua Boyle, Caitlin Coleman and the child she bore in captivity are still hostages in Pakistan. I failed them," Army Special Forces Lt Col Jason Amerine said in June. 

At the time of his disappearance, the Canadian government said they believed Rutherford was in Afghanistan as a tourist and that he was trying to learn Pashto during his travels.

At the time, his brother, Brian Rutherford, acknowledged that his choice of destination "was a poor decision" but that "hindsight's always 20-20."

On Monday, Brian Rutherford, told Global News that the family is "obviously overjoyed at the news, but don't have much else to add at this point."

Rutherford had traveled to Afghanistan on vacation in October 2010 when he was captured days after arriving. He was reportedly accused of being a spy, a charge he denied. He appeared dressed in a winter coat in a video apparently released by the Taliban in 2011, telling viewers his name, his father's name, his age at the time of 26 and, when asked about religion, that he was "agnostic". He said that he had traveled to Afghanistan as a tourist to visit historical sites, like old buildings and shrines. He also said he had never worked for the Canadian government.

"How were you treated by the Taliban after you arrived," a man off camera asked him. "I was treated humanely," Rutherford replied, his eyes darting off screen and then back to the camera.

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