RELEASED: After crossing the border into Nairobi Nigel Brennan begins his way home in November 2009.
Photo: contributed
RELEASED: After crossing the border into Nairobi Nigel Brennan begins his way home in November 2009. Photo: contributed contributed

Aussie journo's Somalian kidnapper to face court

IT WAS an elaborate trap, years in the making.

Now one of the men who allegedly orchestrated the kidnapping of Bundaberg journalist Nigel Brennan in Somalia is before the courts after the sting by Canadian cops.

The Courier-Mail has reported details of how a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer spent five years convincing Ali Omar Ader that he was a book agent to lure him halfway around the world and arrest him.

He was charged in 2015 and the court case has now begun.

Police claim Ader, 42, was "one of the main negotiators" for militants who took Mr Brennan and Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout captive in August 2008.

 

Police say Ali Omar Ader was
Police say Ali Omar Ader was "one of the main negotiators'' for militants who took an Australian and a Canadian journalist hostage in Somalia in 2008. AP

They were ambushed by gunmen 5km outside the capital Mogadishu on their way to film humanitarian camps four days after arriving in the country. They were chained, starved, repeatedly beaten and Ms Lindhout was raped during their 462-day ordeal.

Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan during their kidnap ordeal.

They were eventually freed in November 2009 when their families ignored warnings from the Australian and Canadian governments and hired a specialist agency to pay the $700,000 ransom.

The kidnappers had originally demanded more than twice that - Ms Lindhout had been forced to promise she would send more money after returning home.

The Ontario Superior Court this week heard that "Adam'' - the name allegedly used by Ader - contacted Ms Lindhout's mother Lorinda Stewart in January 2010, more than a year after their release. That kickstarted an undercover operation that would eventually lead to Ader's arrest in an Ottawa hotel room in June 2015.

 

Royal Canadian Mounted Police assistant commissioner James Malizia, and Inspector Paul Mellon at a press conference about the arrest of Ali Omar Ader in 2015.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police assistant commissioner James Malizia, and Inspector Paul Mellon at a press conference about the arrest of Ali Omar Ader in 2015. Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press

With no extradition treaty with Somalia, police knew they had to get him to come to them.

The court heard that the Mounties officer, whose name is suppressed, won Ader's trust over a series of telephone conversations, posing as a literary agent to persuade him to travel to Canada as part of a book deal.

Officers sent to Somalia had established that Ader described himself as an author and boss of a Mogadishu publishing house.

During the long operation, codenamed Project Slype, police allegedly used the fake business proposal to get Ader to reveal details of his role in the ordeal.

Central to the police case against Ader are recordings of dozens of phone calls with Ms Lindhout's family and, later, the police officer.

 

THE PRICE OF LIFE: Nigel Brennan at the book launch.
Photo: Mike Knott/NewsMail
THE PRICE OF LIFE: Nigel Brennan at the book launch. Photo: Mike Knott/NewsMail Mike Knott BUN220711NIG6

But in pre-trial motions before Justice Robert Smith, Ader's lawyer Trevor Brown this week argued that many of the phone taps should be ruled inadmissable.

Seventeen court authorisations were granted to intercept and record phone calls in the case - eight while the pair were still hostages. In one, "Adam" gave the family a 10-day ultimatum to pay. "If we don't get, we will kill," he said.

But Mr Brown claimed a "pattern of negligence'' by Canadian police in mistakes in obtaining warrants for phone interceptions.

Prosecutors have already accepted that evidence from several unauthorised wiretaps cannot be used.

Mr Brennan has written a book about his ordeal, The Price of Life.



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