5 Jan 2012

Canberra working to free kidnapped man

9:45 pm on 5 January 2012

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it's working closely with authorities in the Philippines to save an Sydney man kidnapped in the south of the country.

A video sent to his wife shows Warren Rodwell pleading for a $US2 million ransom to be paid after gunmen abducted him from his home in Mindanao in early December.

An official said a "whole-of-government taskforce" had been set up in Canberra to work with the Australian embassy in the Philippines and local authorities there to secure his release.

The ABC quotes Australia's human services Minister as saying the Government has a policy of not providing ransoms and was focusing instead on ensuring Mr Rodwell's welfare.

Photo-journalist Nigel Brennan, who was held as hostage for 15 months in Somalia, says he understands the government's position not to pay ransoms since it sets a precedent for every other Australian citizen.

However, he said it was incredibly difficult for families themselves to raise the big sums of money demanded.