Al Qaeda frees abducted Swede


Hostage Johan Gustafsson, held by al-Qaeda in Mali since 2011, has been freed, the Swedish government said on Monday.

Mr. Gustafsson, 42, is being flown back to Sweden from Africa, Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, said in a statement.

The BBC reports that the Swede was seized by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) along with two other men, one of whom was freed in a dawn raid in 2015.

Ms Wallström said Mr. Gustafsson was “in good spirits.”

“It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Johan Gustafsson has been released,” Ms Wallström added.

She said the Swede’s release was thanks to “extensive efforts” and co-operation between the Swedish foreign ministry, police and “foreign authorities.”

Ms Wallström said she had spoken with Mr. Gustafsson, who she described as being “happy” and “overwhelmed” by Monday’s events.

“I cannot say more at the current time,” she added.

Sweden’s former Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt said Mr. Gustafsson’s kidnapping weighed heavily on his mind during his time in the role, which ended in 2014.

He tweeted on Monday: “Extremely gratifying that Johan Gustafsson is free. No single case concerned me more as foreign minister.”

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