Six months after Alberta journalist Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped in Somalia, there is no news of her fate, an international advocacy group for journalists says.
Lindhout, a 27-year-old native of Red Deer, and Australian freelance photographer Nigel Brennan, 37, were abducted on Aug. 23 reportedly as they were on their way to a refugee camp near the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Leonard Vincent, spokesman for Reporters Without Borders — a Paris-based advocacy group that works to protect the safety of journalists — said Monday his organization is monitoring the situation, but had no news from their contacts in Somalia or neighbouring Kenya.
"[Lindhout and Brennan] are regularly transferred from one place to another, and they are in the hands of the same group that has the same demands," he said. "It's purely financial and apparently no settlement has been found yet."
Freelancers don't have 'big money' behind them
The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of $2.5 million US by Oct. 28.
"The fact that she was a freelancer is making things more complicated, maybe because the kidnappers understand they – the hostages – don't have big media behind them so there is no big money," Vincent said.
The political and military climate in Somali has become more unstable since the kidnapping, he said.
"They were kidnapped in a situation — in a moment in the history of Mogadishu — when it was easier to just get a ransom and release them," he said. "I think they are just having, as we say in France, a hot potato on their hands, and it's very difficult to get a settlement in this specific moment, because not only do you have to agree on the money, but also have to agree on the scenario of the release."
Lindhout is usually based in Baghdad and reports from war zones in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan. She arrived in Somalia on Aug. 20 to work for the French TV station France 24. She was in the Eastern African nation doing a story on refugees.
A Somali reporter, who served as a translator, and Lindhout's and Brennan's drivers were also kidnapped but released in January.
Canadian and Australian authorities are still trying to secure the pair's release.
The Canadian Association of Journalists urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday to "focus his undivided attention and all resources possible on finding and rescuing" Lindhout and Khadija Abdul Qahaar, a B.C. woman who was kidnapped in November while shooting a documentary on the Taliban in Pakistan's violent Bannu district.
"Every day that Amanda Lindhout and Khadija Abdul Qahaar remain missing is another day that their lives are in grave danger, and another day of distress for their families, friends and colleagues," CAJ president Mary Agnes Welch said in a statement.