Friday, June 12, 2009

Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan in 10th Month of Capture in Somalia

Today marks the 307 day that journalists Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan have been held captive in Somalia, enduring harsh living conditions that keep them chained and without clean water, sufficient food, or medicine.

On August 23, Lindhout, a Canadian journalist, and Brennan, an Australian photographer, were abducted outside the capitol city of Mogadishu. They were traveling with two Somali drivers and a fixer to a refugee camp in order to continue their coverage on Somalia's worsening humanitarian crisis. The three Somalis were released in January.

Ambroise Pierre, the Africa expert with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) fears that the kidnappers did not expect the situation to drag on for this long. "They are really getting impatient," he says. "The kidnappers wanted to negotiate sooner than this."

The kidnappers have demanded varying amounts around $2.5 million dollars in ransom for the two journalists. On Wednesday, a caller into Canadian broadcaster CTV claiming to be Lindhout left a message begging her government to take action and warning of her immediate need for care. "The Canadian government must have some duty to help its citizen in such a crisis and my fellow citizens to assist me by putting pressure on the government," she said. "Without food or medicine, I will die here and I’m in need of immediate aid."

The Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) Robert Mahoney says "We understand that the Canadian and Australian authorities are working to help these journalists but it has been nearly 10 months since they were kidnapped. Both countries must step up efforts to secure their safe and swift release."
CTV reported yesterday on the comparatively small public pressure on the government in this case.

Frontline commented on their Twitter page about the lack of government response and media coverage relating to the capture, and CTV has sourced documents pointing to a lack of public pressure. While the news of deteriorating conditions is worrisome, we hope this latest message will lead to more mainstream media coverage and general pressure on the Australian and Canadian governments do all they can to ensure the safe and timely release of Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan.

Somalia has been declared the most dangerous African country for journalists, and five Somali reporters have been killed already this year.

Click here to read Lindhout's message to CTV in its entirety.

Click here to sign the petition for the release of the two journalists.

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