MANILA, Philippines—The Australian government welcomed Saturday’s release of Australian national Warren Rodwell from more than a year of captivity by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, lauding the Philippine government for “remarkable” efforts to get the Perth native back to safety.
In a statement issued in New South Wales, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr confirmed Rodwell’s release Friday night in Pagadian City and said Rodwell was already in the hands of Philippine authorities and Australian representatives.
“I do want to pay tribute to the Government of the Philippines and their agencies and personnel who worked so hard to secure Mr. Rodwell’s release, including particularly those who combat kidnapping in the Philippines for the Philippines Government; they have done some remarkable work,” said Carr, whose remarks were sent out by the Australian Embassy in Manila.
“I would also like to pay tribute to our own Australian officials, including those from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, from the Australian Federal Police and indeed from Defence who have also worked hard on this matter,” he added.
Carr said Rodwell was to be transferred to a safe location Saturday.
The al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf group abducted the 54-year-old former Australian Army officer on Dec. 4, 2011, initially demanding a $2 million for his release. It was not clear whether cash was paid in exchange for his freedom.
“Our thoughts are with Warren Rodwell on this day of his release, and with his family. I know that his family is keen to ensure that their privacy is respected at this time, and I am sure that our friends from the media will do that,” said Carr.
“The focus now is on Mr Rodwell’s speedy recovery,” Carr said.