An Australian man who had been held in the Philippines by Islamic militants since December 2011 has been released. The al Qaeda-linked kidnappers had demanded a ransom of $2 million (1.5 million euros).
Warren Richard Rodwell was taken to a police station on Saturday after officers spotted him in Padadian city, where he had been released by his kidnappers.
Rodwell had lost weight during his 15 months in captivity, but was otherwise healthy.
The Associated Press, quoting Philippine security officials speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Rodwell's family had paid around $100,000 in ransom. The Australian and Philippine governments have policies in place against paying ransoms. Both declined comment on whether a ransom had been paid.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed her gratitude to the Philippines for their help in freeing Rodwell.
"I do want to pay tribute to the government of the Philippines and their agencies and personnel, they worked so hard to secure Mr. Rodwell's release," Gillard told reporters.
Rodwell, a 54-year-old former soldier, had moved to the southern Philippines after marrying a Filipino woman. After his kidnapping in 2011, he was taken to mountainous islands in the southern part of the country where Abu Sayyaf, a group linked to al Qaeda, are based.
Many governments caution citizens against travelling to certain parts of the southern Philippines due to the risk of kidnapping. Abu Sayyef is believed to still be holding other foreign hostages.
mz/pfd (AFP, dpa, AP)