Amanda Lindhout attends a reception held in her honour by the Alberta Somali-Canadian community in Calgary on Feb. 21, 2010. One of the men accused of holding her hostage says he was forced into it by a gang. – Larry MacDougal,The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A man accused of holding Amanda Lindhout hostage in Somalia says he was threatened with death if he didn’t help the gang that seized her nine years ago.
Testifying Monday in Ontario Superior Court, Ali Omar Ader said he had no role in the plan to kidnap Lindhout, who was working as a journalist near Mogadishu in August 2008.
Under questioning from one of his lawyers, Ader told the court he was sitting in a market when he was suddenly approached by men who fired bullets near his feet and demanded he stand up.
“They told me if you don’t come with us you are going to die,” Ader told the court in the Somali language through a translator.
Ader said he was bundled into a vehicle and driven for more than an hour to a house outside the city where Lindhout, of Red Deer, Alta., and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were being held.
Ader, a 40-year-old Somalian who speaks rudimentary English, has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role as a negotiator and translator.
Lindhout and Brennan were abducted by armed men while working on a story, the beginning of 15 months in captivity. Both were freed in November 2009 upon payment of a ransom.
The Crown has introduced a secretly recorded video of Ader telling two undercover RCMP officers he received $10,000 for his role in the kidnapping.
In his testimony, Ader portrayed himself as a victim who was coerced into assisting three gang leaders and a bunch of gun-toting youths over several months through threats, a beating and an attack on his family.
Ader said the group made him question the hostages shortly after their capture, as well as place a call to Lindhout’s mother, Lorinda Stewart, in Canada.