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A woman claiming to be Amanda Lindhout, a freelance Canadian journalist being held hostage in Somalia, called CTV’s National newsroom Wednesday afternoon, appearing to be reading from a statement in which she says she fears dying in captivity and pleads with the Canadian government to help bring her home.
“I’ve been held hostage by gunmen in Somalia for nearly 10 months. I’m in a desperate situation, I’m being kept in a dark, windowless room in chains, without any clean drinking water and little or no food. I’ve been very sick for months without any medicine,” she told CTV News.
Lindhout is a freelance print and television journalist from Sylvan Lake, Alta.
She travelled to Somalia on Aug. 20 to cover the famine and violence in Sudan for a French television station.
Three days after arriving in the capital city of Mogadishu, she and a group, including photographer Nigel Brennan of Australia, left a hotel to visit a refugee camp about 30 kilometers to the south. They were stopped on the road and abducted.
The kidnappers have been identified as a group called the Mujahedeen of Somalia, They originally demanded $2.5 million but have lowered their ransom price to $1 million.
According to reports, it’s believed the pair’s captors are moving them from location to location — and that negotiations for their release have broken down a number of times.
At the time of the abduction, Lindhout was 27 and Brennan was 37. The other members of the group, all locals, were released.
Lindhout had also worked in Afghanistan and has reported from overseas for Alberta’s Red Deer Advocate newspaper.
Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs would not comment on the case.
Lindhout’s Canadian friends and colleagues are trying to keep her situation in the public spotlight via YouTube videos, Facebook pages and the website http://www.amandalindhout.com/.
Transcript of the telephone statement made to CTV News from someone purporting to be Amanda Lindhout on Wednesday, June 10, 2009: “Um. Yeah. I have a statement I can read and that’s all I can say. So…My name is Amanda Lindhout. I’m a Canadian citizen and I’ve been held hostage by gunmen in Somalia for nearly 10 months. I’m in a desperate situation. I’m being kept in a dark, windowless room in chains without any clean drinking water and little food or no food. I’ve been very sick for months without any medicine.
I’m begging my government and fellow Canadian citizens to assist my family in paying my ransom. 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 my government.
I love my country and I want to live to see it again. Without food or medicine, I will die here and I’m in need of immediate aid. I implore my family whom I love more than anything to continue searching for money for my release. Without it, I will die here.
I will also tell them that they must deal directly with these people, if my life depends on it. My life is worth more than any money spent. To fellow journalists in Canada, please help bring attention to my situation and contribute in anyway possible, in order that I may return home to Canada. That’s all I can say.”