April 26, 2016 / 7:57 PM / in 4 years

Canada, UK to urge other nations not to pay ransoms: Trudeau

KANANASKIS, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada and Britain will urge other nations not to pay ransoms to free kidnap victims, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday, the day after a Canadian hostage was found dead in the Philippines.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a press conference held on the sidelines of the Paris Agreement on climate change held at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Trudeau said if Canada paid ransoms it would put at risk all of its citizens who traveled or lived abroad. Islamist militants beheaded the Canadian man this week after a deadline passed.

Asked about nations that do pay off kidnappers, Trudeau said he had discussed the matter with British Prime Minister David Cameron and both were convinced the practice was wrong.

“We agreed that it is something that we are going to make sure we do bring up with our friends and allies around the world,” Trudeau told reporters after a cabinet retreat in the Alberta resort of Kananaskis.

“We need to make sure that terrorists understand that they cannot continue to fund their crimes and their violence (by) taking innocents hostage,” he said.

John Ridsdel, 68, a former mining executive, was executed by Abu Sayyaf militants who captured him and three others in 2015 while they were on vacation on a Philippine island. Another Canadian, Robert Hall, is still in captivity.

“We are working with our allies, including the Philippines, to ensure the perpetrators of this heinous act are brought to justice,” said Trudeau, who dismissed media reports saying he had been involved in talks to free the hostages.

Last year Canadian police arrested a Somali man in Ottawa for what they say was his role in the 2008 hostage-taking of a Canadian freelance journalist in Somalia. Police said the arrest came after extraterritorial undercover operations, but gave no details.

Abu Sayyaf, which is linked to Islamic State, has collected tens of millions of dollars from ransoms since it was formed in the 1990s, security experts say.

The Philippines rarely publicizes payments of ransom, but it is widely believed no captives are released without them.

Questions about whether Ottawa has paid kidnappers arose in April 2009, after the release of two Canadian diplomats who were seized in Mali in December 2008.

Stephen Harper, who was prime minister at the time, denied Canada had paid any money to secure the men’s freedom.

In October 2009, the Globe and Mail newspaper cited Mali government sources as saying the African nation had released four al Qaeda members in exchange for the two Canadians.

Writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio and Tom Brown

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