27 Dec 2012

Concerns for Australian hostage

10:40 pm on 27 December 2012

Australian authorities say they hold serious concerns for an Australian man being held hostage by an Islamic separatist group in the Philippines, after a video was released.

Warren Rodwell has been held captive for more than a year, but the ABC reports that it appears in the new video that he has given up hope of being freed.

Mr Rodwell talks in the video of some sort of negotiations, but says that he is being deprived of any information and doesn't believe he'll be released.

Staff at the Australian Foreign Minister's office says the Government is aware of the video, and that the Australian and Phillipines governments are working together and pressing for Mr Rodwell's release.

Mr Rodwell was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf, a group linked to al Qaeda, more than a year ago.


The latest video of him was apparently recorded on 16 December and shows Mr Rodwell looking haggard and desperate.

The video was posted on a YouTube channel linked to Abu Sayyaf on Boxing Day, and for the two minutes Mr Rodwell is on camera, he's holding a copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer from 15 December as proof of the date.

"This video clip today is to say that I am alive, I am waiting to be released," he says. "I have no idea what's going on outside and I am just kept held prisoner in isolation".

Mr Rodwell and his wife were running a store in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao when the 53-year-old was kidnapped last December. Gunmen posing as policemen stormed his fortified house.

That area is known to be a base for Islamist militants and rebel groups and other foreigners have been kidnapped there.

The abductors initially demanded a $US2 million ransom from his wife. There is no mention of any ransom in the latest video.

In an earlier video released last January, Mr Rodwell pleaded with his family to raise the ransom money as soon as possible.

The ABC reports that there has been a news blackout on the kidnapping, imposed by Philippine authorities at the request of Australia.

The Australian Government has a longstanding policy against paying ransoms to kidnappers.