Ransom of $97,750 freed Australian

AFP-JIJI

Islamic militants in the Philippines were paid $97,750 for the release of Australian hostage Warren Rodwell, who survived 15 months in captivity, a report said Sunday.

An emaciated Rodwell, a former soldier, 54, was released at the port city of Pagadian on the island of Mindanao on Saturday, 100 km east of the site of his kidnapping Dec. 5, 2011.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. cited a police video showing Rodwell telling Filipino officers he was “put in a boat and told to paddle for his life.”

The ransom was substantially less than the $2 million the kidnappers, members of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, had initially demanded soon after they broke into the house Rodwell was sharing with his Filipino wife in the town of Ipil.

The deal’s negotiator, Al Rashid Sakalahul, vice governor of the southern Philippine province of Basilan, said he did not know where the money came from but that it was channeled through Rodwell’s wife and her brother. Australia said Canberra did not pay any of the ransom money.