Al-Qaida frees Swedish hostage Johan Gustafsson

Calvin Saunders
June 27, 2017

"We have tried contacting the intermediary in Mali about Stephen's case, we couldn't get through to him, he just said "I can hear you but the network is not good, I'll try calling you later".

She also did not comment on whether a ransom was paid.

Gustafsson is now being flown back to Sweden from northern Africa.

"I've already spoken with Johan and he is doing well and is overwhelmed by everything going on", Wallstrom told Swedish Radio.

In her statement Ms Wallstrom highlighted collaboration between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Swedish Police Authority National Operations Department and other government departments, in Sweden and elsewhere.

Gustafsson, 42, was abducted in Timbuktu, northern Mali, in November 2011 along with South African national Stephen McGown and Dutchman Sjaak Rijke.

Gustafsson, from Värnamo in southern Sweden, was reportedly on a motorbike trip from Sweden to South Africa when he was abducted.

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The trio was kidnapped on the terrace of their hotel along with several other Westerners, including Rijke's wife, who managed to escape.

AQIM have a reputation of attacking and kidnapping westerners and took control of Mali's north in 2012, killing indiscriminately and destroying ancient artefacts, before being ousted by a French-led military operation.

Rijke was freed in April 2015 by French special forces.

"We have no information..."

The news has sparked hope for Gift of the Givers which has been negotiating McGowan's release. "We have reached a dead end", Gift of the Givers said in a May 17 statement. Over the years, AQIM had released several videos of Gustafsson and McGowan, but there were no clear demands from the kidnappers.

The released person was identified as Johan Gustafsson. No group has claimed responsibility for her disappearance.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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