Amanda Lindhout kidnapping: RCMP charge Somali national Ali Omar Ader
RCMP alleges man arrested in Ottawa is 'main negotiator' in 2008 kidnapping of Canadian, Australian colleague
Ali Omar Ader, a Somali national alleged to have been part of the 2008 kidnapping of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout and her Australian colleague, was arrested and charged in Ottawa by RCMP, the Mounties said today.
Ader was arrested on June 11 by the RCMP's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET).
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The RCMP allege he was the "main negotiator" in the hostage-taking of Lindhout and photojournalist Nigel Brennan.
It's an unusual case — the incident occurred outside of Canada, the investigation was conducted outside of Canada and the accused is not a Canadian citizen.
The RCMP said it leaned on the extra-territorial provisions of the Criminal Code in order to carry out its mandate to prevent, detect and investigate national security criminal offences beyond Canada's borders.
Outside the Ottawa courthouse, Ader's lawyer, Samir Adam, offered few details.
"It's too early in the process for me to comment about the nature of the charges or the facts in this case," he said.
"We've just recently received the disclosure. Myself and Sean May are going to take a hard look at the disclosure to see what the allegations are."
Adam said the next step is a video remand appearance.
"I imagine there'll be a large amount of disclosure, a large amount of complicated information that we'll have to go through as a firm," he said.
Lindhout and Brennan were kidnapped by Islamic extremists near Mogadishu on Aug. 23, 2008.
The RCMP said Friday it began a criminal investigation named Project Slype at that time.
Lindhout was released on Nov. 25, 2009, after more than a year in captivity. She has written and spoken extensively about the abuse she endured during that time. Lindhout said she survived torture and repeated rape by a group of teenage boys.
In her memoir, A House in the Sky, Lindhout describes a male named Adam, whom she alleges "made calls to my mother in Canada, scaring her with his threats."
Sara Corbett, the co-author of the memoir, confirmed to CBC News that the man arrested Thursday is the man known in the book as Adam, "which likely was an alias," and not another figure who appears briefly named Ali.
"There is no doubt about his identity. Amanda has seen the photo of him and confirms that he was the kidnapper known to her as Adam," Corbett wrote in an email to CBC News. Those allegations have not been proven in court.
International investigation had 'some challenges'
The RCMP investigation located Ader in Somalia. Undercover operations, surveillance and wiretaps followed.
Police also acknowledged witness statements by Lindhout and Brennan "greatly assisted in advancing the investigation."
The RCMP did not disclose how or why Ader was in Ottawa. He was not living in Canada at the time of his arrest, but had been in the Canadian capital for a few days, RCMP said.
"Because the investigation was conducted on an international basis, it did create some challenges," said James Malizia, RCMP assistant commissioner, as it was carried out in an "extremely high-risk environment in a country plagued with political instability."
It's unclear how much the government of Somalia co-operated with the investigation or if they have requested extradition of Ader.
The RCMP said the Canada Border Services Agency, the Foreign Affairs Department and the Australian Federal Police collaborated.
Every incident prompts 'operational activities'
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs would not say how the department was involved in the cross-border investigation "as this matter is currently before the courts."
"The department considers every aspect of this case to have a link with the ongoing legal proceedings, so we cannot comment further," François Lasalle wrote in an email to CBC News.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said during remarks to reporters in Levis, Que., Friday that this was a police operation first and that there wasn't necessarily a political or diplomatic approach carried out.
"Every time a Canadian is attacked or harmed, there are operational activities that are undertaken. This was a very complex one that has proven successful," he said. "I'm delighted to see that anyone who is willing to harm Canadians will face the law, they will be tracked down."
"My thoughts are going [out] to Amanda Lindhout. She's a courageous Canadian woman who has faced a horrific situation and today, she can say those who have committed those horrific crimes will face the Canadian justice."
Brennan said on Twitter that news of his kidnapper's arrest was "amazing."
"Finally justice will be served!" he wrote.
- An earlier version of this story suggested Ali Omar Ader may have been an individual named Ali in Amanda Lindhout's book, A House in the Sky. In fact, Ader is referred to as Adam in the book.Jun 12, 2015 4:07 PM ET
With files from Trinh Theresa Do and Sara Brunetti