- Jan 2010
Canada paid ransom to free envoys, State Department cables show
Canada broke ranks with key allies when it contributed to a ransom to free hostages in West Africa, according to U.S. officials, who complained that the secret deal with terrorists had “a dramatic effect on regional security.”
In memos from the field cabled to Washington, U.S. envoys expressed fears that the ransom deal encouraged “nefarious elements throughout the Sahel to continue targeting Westerners for abductions.” They also said they thought that the deal might lead to suicide car-bomb attacks against Americans.
It has been 2½ years since Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay were released in mysterious circumstances. When reporters pressed Prime Minister Stephen Harper about what his government had done to free them, he stated that “the government of Canada does not pay ransom.”
In West Africa, U.S. officials were left with a very different impression.
Ottawa acceded to the terrorists’ demands for payment in exchange for the hostages, according to the U.S. ambassador to Mali, Gillian Milovanovic, who closely followed the 130-day hostage crisis from her post in the capital, Bamako.
The career diplomat complained that “it is difficult to level criticism on countries like Mali and Burkina Faso for facilitating negotiations when the countries that pay ransom, like Austria and Canada, are given a pass.”
Her views, reflected in a February, 2010, cable to the State Department, accord with those of U.S. and U.K. sources who have independently told The Globe their countries were angered by Ottawa’s role in the hostage negotiations.
more: Canada paid ransom to free envoys, State Department cables show - The Globe and Mail
Not sure what to say about this. The article notes four other Westerners were taken hostage, and one was beheaded. I know it's not supposed to be useful to 'negotiate with terrorists', but the envoys lives were possibly saved. So, how can you condemn Ottowa?