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Amanda Lindhout at her home in Canmore, Alta., on June 14, 2015.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Amanda Lindhout fought through tears Wednesday as she told a hushed courtroom how she suffers from crippling flashbacks and sometimes wakes up screaming, part of the emotional legacy of her 15-month kidnapping ordeal in Somalia.

Testifying at a sentencing hearing for convicted hostage-taker Ali Omar Ader, Lindhout said the sexual assault, beatings and emotional trauma she suffered in captivity filled her with pain and self-loathing.

“I was a young woman wanting to rebuild my life,” Lindhout said. “But the abuse had made me hate myself.”

Ader, a 40-year-old Somalian national, faces a potentially lengthy prison sentence after being convicted of hostage-taking late last year.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith ruled that Ader was a “willing participant” in the 2008 kidnapping of Lindhout, who was working as a freelance journalist near Mogadishu at the time.

The judge found little to believe in Ader’s testimony, saying it did not support his claim that he was forced into serving as a negotiator and translator on behalf of a gang who threatened to harm him and his family.

Samir Adam, one of Ader’s lawyers, said a sentence of 10 to 12 years in prison would be appropriate. The Crown is seeking a sentence of 15 to 18 years, and suggested the judge invoke a provision that would require Ader to serve half of his sentence before being eligible for parole.

Smith is scheduled to sentence Ader on June 18, almost a decade after the bleak events began to unfold.

Lindhout, raised in Red Deer, Alta., and photographer Nigel Brennan of Australia were snatched by armed men while pursuing a story, the beginning of 15 months as hostages. Both were freed in November 2009 upon payment of a ransom.

Years after their release, the RCMP lured Ader to Canada on the pretext of signing a lucrative book-publishing deal, leading to his arrest in Ottawa in June 2015. He acknowledged to undercover officers that he had received $10,000 for his role in the kidnapping.

As negotiator for the gang, Ader held many long-distance telephone conversations with Lindhout’s mother, Lorinda Stewart, who told him the family was selling possessions and scrambling to raise ransom money.

Crown prosecutor Croft Michaelson told the court Wednesday that Ader was “casual and brutal” in his communications “and scoffed at their ransom offerings.”

At one point Lindhout was driven at night into the desert, where a knife was held to her throat. While Ader was not present, he helped the gang connect a phone call to Stewart so she could hear her daughter’s hysterical screams.

Adam said Ader was unaware that Lindhout had been sexually assaulted while being held captive. Michaelson countered that while Ader did not take part in the assaults or beatings, he was well aware that she was ill and in bad shape.

Delivering a prepared statement, Lindhout said the confinement in squalid conditions left her with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, the inability to sustain friendships, insomnia, nightmares, digestive problems and broken teeth.

“For years after my release I couldn’t really believe I was free.”

Lindhout said she wished good things for Brennan as well as Ader’s wife and five children in Somalia.

Brennan also read a victim impact statement, saying he too has suffered from post-traumatic stress, panic attacks and nightmares. Being forced to hear Lindhout’s screams from torture in an adjoining room is “a memory that will mentally stay with me for the rest of my life,” he said.

His friendship with Lindhout deteriorated as a result of the horrendous events, and they have not spoken in almost seven years.

Brennan said he no longer has hatred in his heart toward Ader and does not want him to spend his life behind bars. He stressed the importance of forgiveness and urged the judge to “show leniency.”

Ader read a statement expressing remorse, saying he was human and therefore flawed.

“I am sorry, I apologize and ask you for forgiveness,” he said, requesting freedom so he could care for his family in Somalia.

Ali Omar Ader has been found guilty in the 2008 kidnapping of Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout in Somalia. Crown prosecutor Croft Michaelson says the verdict sends a message that kidnappers shouldn’t feel “safe” from justice.

The Canadian Press

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