Kid­nap­ping ac­cused feared a dou­ble-cross

Calgary Herald - - NEWS - JIM BRONSKILL

OTTAWA • Amanda Lind­hout’s mother says one of her daugh­ter’s al­leged So­ma­lian ab­duc­tors feared “he was be­ing set up” for a dou­ble­cross as ar­range­ments for a ran­som pay­ment were be­ing fi­nal­ized.

Lorinda Ste­wart told an On­tario court Thurs­day that talks with Ali Omar Ader in early Novem­ber 2009 did not go well be­cause Ader sud­denly be­came “an­gry and afraid.”

Lind­hout was a free­lance jour­nal­ist from Red Deer, Alta., when she and Aus­tralian pho­tog­ra­pher Nigel Bren­nan were grabbed near Mo­gadishu in Au­gust 2008. Both were re­leased in Novem­ber 2009.

Ader, 40, has pleaded not guilty in On­tario Su­pe­rior Court to a crim­i­nal charge of hostage-tak­ing for his al­leged role. He was ar­rested by the RCMP in Ottawa in June 2015. It emerged dur­ing pre­trial mo­tions last spring that the Moun­ties had lured Ader to Canada through an elab­o­rate scheme to sign a pur­ported book-pub­lish­ing deal.

The Crown says Ader ad­mit­ted to un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tors on two oc­ca­sions that he was the ne­go­tia­tor in the kid­nap­ping and that he was paid $10,000 for his ser­vices.

Ste­wart tes­ti­fied that she flew to Nairobi, Kenya, to help ar­range for the re­lease of her daugh­ter and Bren­nan af­ter many months of dis­tress­ing long-dis­tance calls.

At one point, the cap­tors were de­mand­ing US$2.5 mil­lion, but the fam­i­lies as­sem­bled less than US$700,000 af­ter months of des­per­ately try­ing to raise funds.

The plan was to elec­tron­i­cally trans­fer the ran­som funds from Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, to Mo­gadishu through a money-trans­fer ser­vice. An ini­tial at­tempt to pay the ran­som did not work out, but a sec­ond ef­fort suc­ceeded.

Trevor Brown, an Ot­tawabased lawyer for Ader, painted Ste­wart’s se­ries of con­ver­sa­tions as some­thing of a con­fus­ing web due to Ader’s heavy ac­cent and lim­ited English and the dif­fi­culty of hear­ing prop­erly on over­seas phone links. He sug­gested it was im­pos­si­ble to know what role Ader was play­ing.

Ste­wart ac­knowl­edged re­ceiv­ing a fol­low-up phone mes­sage from Ader in Jan­uary 2010, as well as later con­tact through Face­book.

Ader said he wanted to help Lind­hout, and claimed he was “play­ing two sides” in the ne­go­ti­a­tions in or­der to save her, Brown told the court. Ste­wart said she didn’t nec­es­sar­ily be­lieve Ader. “I didn’t trust him.”

Ali Omar Ader

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