New video of kidnapped Swede
A new video of the kidnapped Swede Johan Gustafsson, who was captured in Timbuktu, Mali in 2011, has been published on Youtube, reports Swedish Radio News.
In the video, a masked man claiming to carry a message from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, admonishes the governments of Sweden and South Africa not to use France as an intermediary in negotiations to free Gustafsson and Stephen Malcolm McGowan, the South African and British citizen, who was captured at the same time.
In the video, Gustafsson and McGowan say their names and that the film was recorded on December 17, 2015. Both appear healthy.
The South African organization Gift of the Givers, which has sought contact with the kidnappers, is surprised by the video. Imtiaz Sooliman, the chair of the organization, told news agency TT that it's very strange that the video is being released now, and that intermediaries are also surprised. He added that they're looking into it and hoping to get more information in the coming days, including whether the video is genuine.
The video was released just two days after Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström left Mali, where she was for a four-day-long visit.
Speaking to Swedish Radio News about Gustafsson, Wallström said, "He is in our thoughts continuously, and we are trying to do everything to get him free."