By Barry Ellsworth
A Somali man was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison for his role in the 2008 kidnapping of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout.
Canadian Justice Robert Smith said the lengthy incarceration was meant to send a message to others that international hostage-taking is a serious business that will not be taken lightly.
Ali Omar Ader, 40, had nothing to say as Smith handed down the sentence in an Ottawa courtroom.
The court’s decision comes a decade after Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were working as a team near Modgadishu in 2008, where they were snatched by gunmen.
Ader said he was coerced into serving as a negotiator for the gang who threatened his family.
The judge found that testimony false and said the pair were held in “horrendous circumstances” for 15 months.
The pair was released after the families of Lindhout and Brennan managed to raise the CAN$1.2 million ransom and rescue, with the help of a private risk-management company.
Both were tortured and kept in separate rooms by teens who were part of a Somalia kidnap gang. The brutal treatment was chronicled in Lindhout’s book, “A House in the Sky.”
Lindhout, now 37, delivered a victim’s statement at the sentencing, saying that the confinement left her with post-traumatic stress disorder, broken teeth and the loss of the ability to make friends, among other conditions.
“For years after my release I couldn’t really believe I was free,” she said in the prepared statement.
Ader was lured to Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who tricked him into coming by pretending to offer a lucrative book deal. He was arrested in 2015.
The judge said Ader would receive six years’ credit for time served.