In the last day of testimony in the Amanda Lindhout kidnapping trial, the Crown poked holes in the story of the alleged negotiator who handled many of the details of the ransom payment that led to the Canadian journalist's release.
Ali Omar Ader, the Somali man lured to Canada by an undercover RCMP officer promising a book deal, told Ontario Superior Court on Wednesday that he himself was held captive by the extremist group that abducted Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan.
He said that on the same day as the kidnapping, he was randomly picked off the street while on break from work and forced into service as a translator, facing torture from his captors along the way. He couldn't say how the captors knew he'd be able to speak conversational English, a rarity in the African country.
Under questioning from the Crown prosecutor, Croft Michaelson, Ader conceded he actually brought his wife and children to live with him during his supposed captivity.
During testimony on Tuesday, Ader had said he was kept at the apartment alone. It was only after hearing recorded conversations with an Australian hostage negotiator, where the cries of young children are clearly audible, that he said there were times his family were present at a place where he said he had been caned.
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Ader also said he was free to leave the apartment building, and often went by himself for meals at local restaurants — despite earlier claims he was not allowed to leave voluntarily.
He still reported to work and did not make use of telephones or the Internet there to ask for help, he said. He also didn't phone in a favour from the Somali president, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a man he had long considered a friend, because he said Ahmed wouldn't be able to help him escape.
"The real situation in Somalia was such that even the president couldn't do anything for me," he testified.
He denied he was a willing participant — despite taped phone calls, and text messages that showed he made frequent demands for money from Lindhout's family, and clearly counted himself as part of the group responsible for the kidnapping by referring to "us" and "our group" — and said he was only doing as he was told.
He denied he knew Lindhout was repeatedly raped and tortured.
Despite call logs to the contrary, Ader also denied he tried to sell Lindhout's letters, written while she was in captivity, to her mother for $20,000 after Lindhout was freed.
The calls to Lorinda Stewart were made from the same phone Ader used to call her during the ordeal. He said the phone was taken from him by his captors right after Lindhout was released on November 25, 2009.
Ader said he escaped captivity on Jan. 1, 2009, during a time of unrest in Somalia as the Ethiopian troops were advancing towards the capital of Mogadishu. He said he crept out of the apartment when hostage takers were distracted.
But on Jan. 11 of the same year, a threatening email was sent from Ader's email account to Stewart demanding ransom money. "Danger is coming soon to Amanda if you don't pay ransom we want," he is accused of writing.
Ader said someone else must have used his account to send the request, even though it was signed with his name and used a salutation ("Hello Mom Lorinda") that he himself used on many occasions to address Lindhout's mother. He made such a claim despite his own testimony that few, if any, of the hostage takers spoke English well enough to compose such a note.
(Ader said he later surrendered back to the group, after a brief period of freedom, because he said he was afraid the hostage takers would harm his family.)
In another incident, when Ader was making another request for ransom money, he said to Stewart that Lindhout must be her adopted daughter or she would have already met their demands. "I was ordered to say that," Ader told the court. "I'm ashamed of some of the things I said."
Alleged kidnapper says he lied to police
Ader also denied virtually all of what he told the RCMP officer posing as a book agent, despite his own assertion that the two became friends after years of correspondence.
In a secretly recorded sting video recorded during Ader's visit to Ottawa in 2015, he said he was paid $10,000 for his role in the Lindhout kidnapping as the "main negotiator." He said Wednesday that was a lie, and he only told the officer that because he thought it would make for a better book.
Michaelson, the Crown, said all of these inconsistences prove much of what Ader said in court has been fabricated.
"I suggest to you that none of your evidence in this court has been truthful. I suggest to you that you were the chief negotiator for the hostage takers. You did the job voluntarily and received money. I suggest to you that you were never held captive. And I suggest to you that you were never beaten or shot," he said.
Final submissions will be made Wednesday. A ruling will be handed down in the judge-only trial at a later date.
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