Nigel Brennan

Australia’s longest-held hostage outside a war period

In 2008, Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan and Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout were held hostage for 462 days in Somalia. Nigel was held in isolation, generally in a room 3x5 meters, and often in the dark. After an escape attempt in January 2009, in which they were both recaptured, Nigel and Amanda were chained around the ankles until their eventual release - ten months later.

During his time as a hostage, Nigel suffered both mental and physical torture at the hands of his captors. He and Lindhout were finally released on the 26th November 2009, after their families paid a ransom amounting to over $600 000 (USD). Upon his emancipation, it was discovered Nigel had lost over 15 kilograms, and was suffering from a number of medical conditions.

Nigel's story is immensely captivating and emotional. His account of being captured, held hostage, a near escape and eventual release, provide a fascinating insight into the strength and willpower of mankind.

More about Nigel Brennan:

Nigel Brennan grew up on a 5,500 acre property near Moree in North West NSW. He studied hospitality management at Macleay College in Sydney, and then worked in the hospitality industry for four years, before heading overseas. During his travels through Europe and Asia, Nigel discovered a passion for photography. Upon returning to Australia, he enrolled at Griffith University to study Photojournalism at the Queensland College of Art. In 2005, Nigel was selected as a finalist in the Lieca Documentary Awards for the photographic series "Crossroads". In 2007, he was selected as a finalist for the National Photographic Portrait Prize for a picture of Dr Catherine Hamlin, the Australian founder of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethopia. He currently has a number of photographs held in galleries and private collections around Australia.

In 2007, Nigel took a job working for APN newspapers in Bundaberg. At the start of 2008, he moved back overseas and began working as a freelance photojournalist. In August 2008, he traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia with Amanda Lindhout, to cover the humanitarian and food crises, as well as the ongoing conflict and drought that has ravaged Somalia for nearly 20 years. 

Four days after arriving in the Somalian capital, Nigel and Amanda were ambushed just outside the city, on the way to photograph internally displaced camps. They were held hostage for the next 462 days, making Nigel the longest held living captive in Australian history, outside a prisoner of war situation.