pkg king somalia journalist movie_00004501.jpg
Reporter goes from hostage to Hollywood
02:14 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Lindhout was abducted three days after arriving in Somalia

She was released after her family paid ransom

The makers of "Zero Dark Thirty" plans to make a movie of her experience

CNN  — 

For 460 days, they held her captive. They beat her, sexually assaulted her, kept her locked in a pitch-black room with chains around her ankles.

And yet, Amanda Lindhout says she forgives her abductors.

“When one human can create suffering or another, it always comes from a place of their own suffering,” she says.

And the men who took her hostage – some no more than 14 years old – had endured a “great deal of suffering” in their own lives, she says.

Lindhout, a Canadian freelance journalist, was 27 when she arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, in August 2008. Three days in, she and her crew were ambushed in their car by young men brandishing AK-47s. They took Lindhout, her photographer Nigel Brennan, their drivers and fixer.

The drivers and fixer that had accompanied Lindhout were released after a few months. She and her photojournalist Nigel Brennan were held for a total of 15.

Lindhout’s story of survival, detailed in a book last year, has now been picked up by a Hollywood studio for a movie starring Academy Award nominated actress Rooney Mara.

“I spent 460 days in captivity,” Amanda told CNN.

Fungus grew on her skin. Her hair fell out in clumps. She had abcessed teeth.

A sobbing call to Omni TV during her captivity showed her desperation.

“I don’t want to die here and I’m afraid I’ll die of a disease if I don’t get help soon,” she said in the call.

Lindhout and Brennan were released in November 2009 after their families paid a $600,000 ransom.

In her story of survival, “A House In The Sky,” Lindhout talked about the courage it took to survive.

“I really discovered the strength of the human spirit that is alive in all of us,” she said.

Lindhout’s harrowing story prompted Mara to spend a weekend with her.

Now Mara, best known for her work in “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and “Side Effects,” Mara plans to star in a film optioned by Annapurna Pictures – the production company behind blockbusters, such as “Zero Dark Thirty” and “American Hustle.”

Lindhout is working to change the country where she once lost her freedom.

Shortly after her release, she began an organization to empower women and children in Somalia. The Global Enrichment Foundation (GEF) provides development for Somalis through education, medical care and food aid.

Lindhout says the organization is working to change the environment the children of Somalia grow up in, so that the cycle of violence ends.

Somalia is one of the poorest nations on the planet, and often touted as “the most dangerous country in the world.”

The foundation’s goal, Lindhout says, is to bring growth – and peace.