A FREE MAN’S RE­CALL

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD -

Stephen McGown, a South African who was kid­napped and held hostage by Al Qaeda in Mali for nearly six years, is joined by his wife, Catherine, af­ter re­count­ing his cap­tiv­ity for re­porters Thurs­day. McGown was re­leased in July. Jo­han Gustafs­son, a Swede also held six years, was freed in June. McGown said he was well treated dur­ing his con­fine­ment, but “you al­ways knew you were a prisoner.” McGown and Gustafs­son were the long­est held of a num­ber of for­eign­ers seized by Is­lamic ex­trem­ists in Mali, where armed groups roam the coun­try’s north. The ex­trem­ists have made a for­tune over the last decade ab­duct­ing for­eign­ers and de­mand­ing enor­mous ran­soms. McGown said he didn’t know whether any ran­som was paid for him.

Gul­shan Khan AFP/Getty Images

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