- Title: Al Qaeda releases South African kidnapped in Mali in 2011
- Date: 3rd August 2017
- Summary: PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (AUGUST 3, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF THE NEWS CONFERENCE WITH THE STEPHEN MCGOWAN'S FAMILY AND SOUTH AFRICA'S STATE SECURITY MINISTER, DAVID MAHLOBO AND MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION, MAITE NKOANE-MASHABANE NKOANE-MASHABANE WITH MALCOLM MCGOWAN, STEPHEN'S FATHER, TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) RELEASED HOSTAGE STEPHEN MCGOWAN'S FATHER, MALCOLM MCGOWAN, SAYING: "There was a tremendous amount of work done behind the scenes. Government assisted from the beginning, it took a long time but we got there and I am pleased to say that my son is looking well and very healthy and his mind seems as sharp as ever." STEPHEN MCGOWAN'S WIFE, CATHERINE MCGOWAN AND HER MOTHER LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) RELEASED HOSTAGE STEPHEN MCGOWAN'S FATHER, MALCOLM MCGOWAN, SAYING: "It was a big surprise when Stephen walked through the door, or the first meeting. But when I gave him a hug, he felt as sound and strong as before, so he was well treated up there. Obviously the joy of the miracle that happened - we can't describe it, I guess unless you've travelled the road you really don't know what it's like." CATHERINE MCGOWAN SMILING (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICAN MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION, MAITE NKOANE-MASHABANE, SAYING: "We pay no ransoms, we believe in collaboration and cooperation, even during difficult times that's what our government and our department support. But this time around, it was cooperation and collaboration with the family and them allowing us to say, 'it might take long'. It's been long, it's been tedious, it's been painful. But here we are." JOURNALIST ASKING QUESTION GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (English) RELEASED HOSTAGE STEPHEN MCGOWAN'S WIFE, CATHERINE MCGOWAN, SAYING: "In terms of seeing Steve again, I didn't... you know you play all these things around in your head, how it's gonna be what you gonna say, where's it's gonna be. I played all scenarios in my mind and this is not how it happened so yeah, he came out and looked at me and sort of said, 'wow your hair's grown' and I said, 'well actually your hair is longer than mine now' - very long, so yes." MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES AT THE CONFERENCE / MCGOWAN FAMILY AND MINISTERS HOLDING HANDS STEPHEN'S FATHER AND NKOANE-MASHABANE HOLDING HANDS / FAMILY AND MINISTERS STANDING UP AND HUGGING, SHAKING HANDS
- Embargoed: 17th August 2017 14:53
- Keywords: Hostage freed Stephen McGowan's family al Qaeda hostage Mali paid no ransom
- Location: PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA AND UNKNOWN LOCATION
- City: PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA AND UNKNOWN LOCATION
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA0016SLS5L3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL
South African Stephen McGowan, who was kidnapped by al Qaeda from the Mali tourist town of Timbuktu in 2011, has been released and is back home, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Thursday (August 3).
McGowan, who had been touring Mali on motorbikes with a German, a Swede and a Dutch national, was undergoing medical tests but had no major injuries, Nkoana-Mashabane told a news conference. No ransom was paid, she added.
Swede Johan Gustafsson, who was kidnapped alongside McGowan from a Timbuktu restaurant, was freed in June. The kidnappers had demanded 5 million dollars for his release, but the government rejected it, Swedish Radio said.
Their German friend was killed in the initial kidnapping, while Sjaak Rijke of the Netherlands was freed in 2015 in a raid by French special forces.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb began as a spin-off from an Islamist movement that fought Algeria's government in the 1990s. The group was pushed into north Mali the following decade, and they have been responsible for dozens of kidnappings of Westerners and scores of attacks on security forces across West Africa.
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