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Amanda Lindhout's Phone Call With Mother During Her Captivity Is Bone-Chilling

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AMANDA LINDHOUT KIDNAP DETAILS
Amanda Lindhout was taken hostage for 15 months in Somalia. | CP
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Amanda Lindhout lived 15 months of her life in captivity.

Canadians learned horrific details of the daily abuse the Alberta freelance journalist experienced after being kidnapped in Somalia in 2008. She published her award-winning memoir "A House in the Sky," five years after she was first taken hostage.

One person who was also subject to the horrors Lindhout endured was her mother, Lorinda Stewart. Living in Alberta, she was contacted by her daughter's captors shortly after the kidnapping. It was Stewart who tried for over a year to negotiate Lindhout's release.

The two women shared many phone calls throughout the nightmarish ordeal. A select number of calls are now being released to the public for the first time.

'Things have changed'

The "worst" call happened about a year after Lindhout was kidnapped, according to CBC News. On the phone, Lindhout begs her mother for the $1 million her captors demanded. Stewart is heard trying to calm her down, assuring she was doing all that she could.

That call was aired Monday during an interview with CBC Radio host Anna Maria Tremonti and Lindhout and Stewart. It touched on the issue of Canada's stance of not paying ransoms for nationals kidnapped abroad.

The topic re-entered the national conversation after Canadian John Ridsdel was killed by hostage-takers in the Philippines in late April.

After Ridsdel's death, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated the government's position that Canada "does not and will not" pay ransom to terrorists, either directly or indirectly.

Listen to Lindhout and Stewart's call below, via CBC.
WARNING: The content may be disturbing to some readers

Lindhout said the call took place after she was assaulted for three days.

"OK, things have changed here, mom. You need to pay the money now," she says, sobbing during the call. Her voice shatters as Stewart repeatedly says her name in an effort to get her to listen.

"You need to pay the million dollars now because they've started to torture me."

Lindhout's book revealed how her family, as well as that of Australian colleague Nigel Brennan who was also kidnapped, gave up on Canadian and Australian governments and co-ordinated the pair's release themselves.

"You need to pay the million dollars now because they've started to torture me."

About $600,000 went to the kidnappers as ransom. The two families split the bill evenly. While Brennan's family was more well off, public donations helped Lindhout's parents come up with their half.

Lindhout says both the Canadian and Australian governments made the kidnappers an offer of $250,000. It was categorized as "expense" money to maintain official government policies of not paying ransoms.

It was rejected.

Despite the trouble her mother went through to raise the money, Lindhout says that she agrees governments shouldn't start paying ransoms.

In a piece for the National Post published Sunday, Lindhout writes about how she is "not comfortable with the fact that those who abducted me profited from it," but argues that families should be allowed to fundraise privately to pay ransoms.

A former hostage negotiator told Global News Sunday if governments start a precedence of paying for ransoms, more people will be kidnapped.

amanda lindhout
Amanda Lindhout was held hostage in Somalia for 15 months and released in 2009. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

The government paying ransoms "would make the world an even-more dangerous place for Canadians working and travelling abroad, increasing the chance they could be targeted for kidnapping," Lindhout wrote.

She says she knows she and Ridsel could have shared the same fate.

"As we mourn the terrible outcome of Ridsdel’s hostage-taking, we need to work together — families and government — to reduce the risks for Canadians abroad and stamp out terror forever," she wrote.

"That is how we honour his memory."

With files from The Canadian Press

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