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Freed Somalia hostage apologises to family -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan, who was held by armed men in Somalia
for more than a year, has made his first public appearance in Sydney.

He apologised to his family for the pain his kidnapping caused them. He declined to take questions
but he did read from a long prepared statement.

NIGEL BRENNAN: It feels so good to be home. It's hard to believe I'm standing here safe on
Australian soil. I must confess there were times when I wondered if this moment would ever come.
After my experience I just feel so fortunate to come from a country where freedom is taken for
granted.

If I can in any way explain my rationale for being in Somalia at all and putting myself in harm's
way it was to highlight the plight of others not so fortunate. In hindsight it was a risk I maybe
shouldn't have taken and I am personally distressed at the grief and the heartache I have caused
but my motives were honourable.

Now that I'm back home I need to acknowledge so many people who worked so hard to secure my
release. Firstly I need to say sorry to my family, especially Mum and Dad, for the stress and hurt
I've caused them over the last 15 months.

I'm sure at times their pain and suffering was much worse than my own. At least I knew I was alive,
although sometimes even I questioned that. I want to thank my family for never giving up or giving
in to my captors' demands. I'm truly overwhelmed by their love and support and I'm so very
fortunate to have the family that I do.

I'm especially grateful to my sister Nicky Bonney, my sister-in-law Kellie Brennan and Amanda
Lindhout's mother Lorinda Stewart for taking on the tough roles, including crisis management and
hostage negotiation. They never gave up and I'm here today because of their courage and
determination. I'm indebted to these three women and will never been able to thank them enough.
They are all simply amazing.

I want to thank both Dick Smith and Bob Brown for their financial backing and thanks to many others
who contributed to fundraising efforts. I'm lucky to come from a country with such selfless
individuals.

I would also like to thank John Chase of AKE and the extraction team for all their expertise in
getting me out of Somalia safely, at great risk to themselves.

I would also like to thank my extended family and friends for the support they've given my family
during this ordeal. I know there has been some criticism of the Government, but there are some
individuals and agencies I would like to thank, including the Australian High Commissioner in Kenya
Lisa Filipetto and her staff for their support, the staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs and
the Australian Federal Police for their work over the past 15 months.

The Australian Defence Force for sending their expert psychologists to help me with the initial
stages of my recovery and the Australian, Canadian and Somali Governments for their help since my
release.

I would also like to thank the management, doctors and nursing staff of the Aga Khan University
hospital in Nairobi for the amazing treatment I was given on arrival in Kenya; the management and
staff of the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club and the Tribe Hotel for taking exceptionally good
care of myself and Mum after I was discharged from hospital, and to the flight crew of Emirates
airlines for finally bringing me home to Australia.

I would also like to thank the Australian media for their discretion about media coverage during my
imprisonment, which protected the very sensitive negotiations and my safety.

Finally, to my good friend and colleague Amanda Lindhout, thank you for the support, friendship and
love that you gave me through this ordeal. Even though for the most part we were completely
isolated from each other, just knowing you were through the wall or down the corridor was an
unbelievable comfort. You helped me get through the ups and downs of each day and I couldn't have
done it without you.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the photojournalist Nigel Brennan speaking to reporters in Sydney today
after his release from Somalia.