Perth doctor kidnapped and held in West Africa released
An Australian doctor who's been held captive in West Africa for more than seven years has been released.
Kenneth Elliott, 88, from Perth, is safe and well and has been reunited with his wife Jocelyn and their children, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong announced on Friday.
"We wish to express our thanks to God and all who have continued to pray for us," Dr Elliott's family said in a statement released by the minister's department.
"We express our relief that Dr Elliott is free and thank the Australian government and all who have been involved over time to secure his release.
"At 88 years of age, and after many years away from home, Dr Elliott now needs time and privacy to rest and rebuild strength.
"We thank you for your understanding and sympathy."
Senator Wong said the government had worked "tirelessly" to secure his release, and thanked officials for their efforts.
"I am so pleased that his release has been secured and he is safely again with his family," she told reporters in Sydney.
"They have asked for privacy, and we will respect that, but I'm sure all Australians wish Dr Elliott and his family well."
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham welcomed the news, saying officials needed to be credited with achieving a breakthrough.
"This is a good day for many people, but a good day most of all for Dr Ken Elliot and his family and loved ones," he told Sky News.
Senator Birmingham said maintaining lines of communication with terrorists and the addition of the COVID pandemic would have complicated matters over the years.
"That's a credit to work over many, many years of individuals who sought to establish the type of lines of dialogue and communications to be able to secure this outcome," he said.
Dr Elliott and his wife were kidnapped by terrorists in January 2016 near the border with Mali and Niger, where they were running a medical clinic.
Jocelyn Elliott was released three weeks after their capture.