Brennan sister negotiates release

DESPITE all the months of high-level negotiations, in the end Nigel Brennan’s release came down to the work of one woman: his sister, Nicky Bonney.

Entrepreneur Dick Smith, who yesterday confirmed he helped finance Mr Brennan’s release from captivity in Somalia, said Mrs Bonney had done an outstanding job of negotiating the deal to let her brother go.

“Nicky negotiated with the kidnappers herself — she did all the direct communication,” Mr Smith said.

“She had advice from a security company but she did it all, the calls and talking.”

“As a businessman, I consider myself quite tough because I don’t want to lose money — but Nicky and the family were amazing, they did a very good job (at the negotiations),” Mr Smith said.

But while Mr Smith praised the actions of the Brennan family, he said the Australian Government had not done enough to bring Mr Brennan home.

“After 11 months of the government’s failure, in three months, the family got them out,” Mr Smith said.

“Bundaberg people should be very proud that you’ve got such a competent family that could negotiate the release, when the Australian and Canadian governments couldn’t.

“The Australian and the Canadian government were trying to do the right thing but I think they didn’t have enough experience (in hostage negotiations),” he said.

Mr Smith would not put a dollar figure on his contribution to the ransom but said the total was less than the US$1 million mentioned in some news reports.

“The ransom was nowhere near $1 million — nothing like it,” he said.

Mr Smith was approached by Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, who also donated money, after Nigel’s father Geoff Brennan started fundraising in an attempt to save his son.

He said the family was desperate for help, after Mr Brennan had been in captivity for eleven months.

“(The Brennans) had sold everything they had and they were running sausage sizzles to try and raise money. I could see there was no way they could get anywhere near the amount of money they needed,” Mr Smith said.

“So I said, don’t worry about money, I’ve got that covered — you just think about the negotiations.”

“I’ve done my part,” he said.

“If he wanted to say hello, I’d love to, but my job is finished — it was thanks enough knowing he was out.”

Canada’s ambassador to Kenya yesterday confirmed that Mr Brennan and his Canadian colleague Amanda Lindhout were receiving medical care in Nairobi, ahead of plans to fly the pair to their respective homes.

‘Nicky negotiated with the kidnappers herself – she did all the direct communication’