Swedish government announces release of hostage in Mali

Swede held hostage by al Qaeda since 2011 freed

"Johan's situation has touched many of us, and extensive efforts have been made to secure his release", the ministry said in a statement.

"The Swedish policy is not to pay ransom in connection with kidnappings", Wallstrom said, referring to her government's general guideline, but refused to take questions on Gustafsson's case. Johan Gustafsson was on a motorcycle trip from Sweden to South Africa when he was kidnapped.

"I have already spoken to Johan and he was in good spirits and overwhelmed by everything that's going on", Wallström told Swedish radio, saying she would hold a press conference later in the evening.

In her statement Ms Wallstrom highlighted collaboration between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Swedish Police Authority National Operations Department and other government departments, in Sweden and elsewhere.

Gustafsson, from Värnamo in southern Sweden, was kidnapped in Timbuktu, northern Mali, in November 2011 together with South African Stephen McGowan and Dutchman Sjaak Rijke.

Rijke was freed in April 2015 by French special forces.

It is unclear whether Public Protector can recommend amending Constitution
It will now be up to the SIU to uncover the public funds which were "unlawfully given" to Absa, as Mkhwebane has found. The request was made through the South African Secret Service.

The three men were part of a group of westerners apprehended by armed jihadists at their hotel in the city alongside Rijke's wife who escaped and a German who was killed. While they were forced out of strongholds a year later by a French-led military intervention, jihadists continue to attack Malian and French soldiers and United Nations peacekeepers. "I don't think Stephen has been released", said Imtiaz Sooliman, head of Gift of the Givers.

According to Swedish media reports, Gift of the Givers had been negotiating a ransom with the hostage-takers.

AQIM claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

Goran Gustafsson, Johan Gustafsson's father, would not confirm or comment the information to Swedish news agency TT.

"I don't want to talk right now, I can't".

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