Al-Qaeda in Mali frees Swedish hostage held since 2011

27 June, 2017, 02:58 | Author: Courtney Perry
  • Swede held hostage by al Qaeda since 2011 freed

Johan Gustafsson, the 42-year-old Swedish man held captive by an al-Qaida linked group in Mali since 2011, has been released, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs said Monday.

She said that the Swede's release was thanks to "extensive efforts" and co-operation between the Swedish foreign ministry, police and "foreign authorities".

It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Johan Gustafsson has been released and can return to Sweden.

The Swedish government confirmed that Johan Gustafsson landed at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport on Monday (26 June) after being held by the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

"I welcomed him home, and I can say that he is in good health and is holding up well, given the circumstances", she said.

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


In May, McGowan's mother, Beverley McGowan, 69, passed away after years of uncertainty and reports of ransom demands for her son. "No single case concerned me more as foreign minister".

He was captured along with South African Stephen McGowan and Dutchman Sjaak Rijke while the three were at their hotel.

Gift of the Givers, a South African charity, has worked to secure the release of McGown and Gustafsson since 2015, sending a negotiator into remote parts of Mali and Niger. A third foreign hostage was freed in 2015 by French special forces.

Gustafsson was on a motorcycle trip from Sweden to South Africa when he was kidnapped.

The extremists were forced from their strongholds in 2013 by a French-led operation but continue to launch attacks on peacekeepers and Malian forces.

Stephen Gustafsson's family had repeatedly pleaded for his release in statements to the media, but on Monday his father Goran Gustafsson refused to comment on Stephen's release.

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