A decade after journalist Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped in Somalia, an Ottawa court has sentenced one of the men involved to 15 years in prison in the case, which is the first of its kind in Canada.
Lindhout, a freelance journalist from Red Deer, Alberta, was taken hostage along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan during a reporting trip near Mogadishu in August 2008. The pair was released by their captors in November 2009.
Since her release, Lindhout has written a book detailing her experience, and spoken out extensively about being tortured, beaten, and raped during her 15 months in captivity. Brennan, who came to Ottawa for Ader’s trial, told Global News in March that he’s willing to forgive his former tormenter and that he didn’t want him to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Ali Omar Ader, a 40-year-old Somali man who was lured to Canada by the RCMP with the promise of a fake book deal, was accused of acting as a negotiator for the kidnappers and threatening to kill Lindhout if they weren’t paid a ransom.
In 2015, Ader was flown to Canada to meet with an undercover cop who he believed was a publisher. The tactic police used to lure him to Canada, so he could be prosecuted for crimes committed in Somalia, was characterized by his lawyers as a “Mr. Big” operation, a controversial approach commonly used to elicit confessions.
During that meeting, Ader confessed to acting as a negotiator for the kidnappers for a share of the ransom.
He was found guilty of one charge of hostage-taking in December.
In December, the court rejected Ader’s defence that he was an unwilling participant in the kidnapping. In his ruling, Justice Robert Smith wrote that Ader’s testimony claiming that he himself was kidnapped at gunpoint and coerced into acting as a translator, was “completely unbelievable.”
Ali has already served nearly six years in pretrial custody, which will be taken off his sentence.