After 15 months ordeal in the hands of Islamic militants in Mindanao, Australian Warren Rodwell, 54, an ex-soldier was released upon payment of US$97,750 ransom on Sunday, a report said.
A pale and haggard Rodwell was released at Pagadian City Saturday about 60 miles east of the town of Ipil where he was kidnapped on December 5, 2011.
He said his captors put him in a boat and told to paddle for his life, Rodwell said this to Filipino officers as contained in a police video cited by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Australian and Philippine authorities were tight lipped about payment of ransom money, but Australia’s Fairfax Media revealed the fact that it was Basilan province vice-governor and negotiator Al Rashid Sakalahul who handed over the equivalent of $97,750 in Philippine money.
He doesn’t want to be accused of having pecuniary interest from this transaction that’s why he admitted the giving of the ransom and how much to belie speculation that he gained something from the negotiation with the kidnapper, Sakalahul said.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Canberra did not pay any money, the report said
His only mission was humanitarian to save the life of Rodwell by getting him out of the Abu Sayyaf, said Sakalahul.
As to the source of the ransom money, Sakalahul said he did not know where the money came from but it was passed through Rodwell’s wife Miraflor Gutang and her brother Roger.
In earlier development of this case, Sakalahul had informed Fairfax the kidnappers were demanding some $400,000.
It was a tough negotiation but in the end, with God’s help, they managed to secure the release of Rodwell with the much reduced amount, Sakalahul told Fairfax.
That Saturday Rodwell was flown by helicopter to Zamboanga to receive medical treatment and to remain there for a week, reports said.
The Abu Sayyaf is one of many armed Islamist groups operating in the southern Philippines, which has been home to a deadly Muslim separatist insurgency that has cost tens of thousands of lives since the 1970s.
Nigel Brennan, an Australian photojournalist who was kidnapped in Somalia in 2008 and held hostage for 462 days, said Rodwell would find it tough to overcome his trauma.
In his tweet, Brennan suggested to media to give Warren Rodwell space when he comes home to give time with family and friends to recover.
Source: Ransom of $97,750 paid for Australian freed hostage …