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Kidnapped foreign journalists released after 15 months

Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan have been freed after being abducted by gunmen in Somalia and held captive for 15 months, report Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

The journalists were kidnapped while working in Somalia in August 2008, and are now safe in a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. According to CJFE, Lindhout has said that a ransom was paid to the kidnappers by the journalists' parents. News reports say the kidnappers forced Lindhout to make scripted calls to her mother in an attempt to convince her to pay a million-dollar ransom. They would beat her to try to get her to say the right thing to her mother.

NUSOJ says the captors handed the two journalists over to four members of the Transitional Federal Parliament. Lindhout said negotiations between her kidnappers and the Somali government have been going on for the last two weeks.

Lindhout reports that she was held in solitary confinement with no light, no windows with very little food in deplorable conditions and was subjected to beatings and torture. News reports say the journalists were moved several times and held in about 11 different houses throughout Somalia.

CJFE led a campaign which was supported by more than 1,000 Canadians, calling on the Canadian government to spare no effort to secure the journalists' release.

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