Calgary

Freed Lindhout thanks supporters in 1st statement

An Alberta reporter recently freed after being held hostage for 15 months in Somalia has released her first public statement, thanking those who helped pull her through the ordeal.

An Alberta reporter recently freed after being held hostage for 15 months in Somalia has released her first public statement, thanking those who helped pull her through the ordeal.

Amanda Lindhout, 28, returned to Alberta last week and hasn't spoken to the media since arriving in Canada. In a statement released on Thursday, she had a long list of people to thank, including her family and friends, government officials and those who have donated money to a trust fund in her name.

"I went through an extremely trying ordeal, but I never forgot the world outside was a beautiful place," she wrote. "The road to recovery will not always be easy, but I will take it one day at a time, focusing on the moments I've dreamed about for so long.

"I am excited as I begin to walk on a new path in life, one full of opportunities to help others."

Lindhout, a freelance journalist, and Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan, 38, were released on Nov. 25 in exchange for $600,000 US in ransom.

Gunmen took the pair hostage on Aug. 23. They were on their way to a refugee camp near the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Both Lindhout and Brennan said their time as hostages included torture and beatings.

Brennan called 'a gentleman'

In her statement, Lindhout also thanked Brennan, who has returned to Australia, and his family.

"His strength of character in the midst of extreme hardship inspired me during the darkest days," Lindhout's statement said. "Despite our separation, he always managed to find small ways to remind me that there are gentlemen in the world, even when I was surrounded by just the opposite."

Lindhout had little to say about the kidnapping or her release.

She did reveal that her mother, Lorinda, and Brennan's sister, Nicky, were the primary negotiators with her captors. She also thanked international security firm AKE "for their tireless dedication to our case, and ultimately, for bringing us out of Somalia safely."

Lindhout acknowledged the debate at home about the role the Canadian government should play in securing her release. She specifically thanked the Canadian high commissioner in Nairobi, Ross Hynes, and his wife, Vanessa.

"I understand the government of Canada is being criticized both for what they did and didn't do to support my family," the statement says. "I accept they did what they could within the confines of Canadian policy, and for that, I am grateful.

"I also recognize the efforts made by the government of Australia."

Lindhout grew up in Sylvan Lake and went to school in Red Deer but calls Calgary home in her statement.

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