Ransom was paid for Canadian hostages: WikiLeaks

2011-02-05 11:36

Al-Qaeda in Africa was strengthened by a ransom paid for the release of two Canadian hostages two years ago, a newly released US diplomatic cable suggested yesterday.

Canadian Robert Fowler was serving as a United Nations (UN) special envoy to Niger when he and fellow Canadian UN official Louis Guay were taken hostage on December 14 2008 by militants armed with AK47s.

The pair and two European tourists were released after 130 days in captivity – each day marked with a scratch on Fowler’s leather belt.

A brief mention of a ransom appeared this week in a US cable released by WikiLeaks.

“There had been eight kidnappings in the past six months, including the two Canadian officials who were recently released in return for a ransom payment,” Libya’s former intelligence chief Musa Kusa told US ambassador Gene Kretz, according to the US cable.

“Such payments were unfortunate and only increased the strength of Al-Qaeda,” he added.

The daily Globe and Mail had reported that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb prisoners had been released from African prisons and the kidnappers were paid millions of dollars for the release of the hostages.

But Ottawa denied paying a ransom and the prisoner swap.

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