June 26, 2017 / 2:57 PM / in 5 months

Al Qaeda releases Swedish hostage after almost six years

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Swedish citizen held hostage by al Qaeda militants for nearly six years has been released, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

A picture of freed hostage Johan Gustafsson and his family at Arlanda airport after his arrival in Sweden on Monday, is shown during a press conference with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom at government headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden June 26, 2017. TT News Agency/Marcus Ericsson via REUTERS

Johan Gustafsson, 42, was kidnapped in November 2011 in Timbuktu, during a motor cycle trip in Mali, along with two people from South Africa and the Netherlands.

The kidnappers has earlier demanded 5 million dollars for his release, a demand rejected by the Swedish government, according to Swedish Radio, without citing a source.

The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the question of a ransom.

“It is with great joy I can say that Johan Gustafsson has been released and will be able to return to Sweden,” Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in a statement.

Wallstrom said “considerable efforts” were made by the Foreign Ministry, together with the police and other Swedish and foreign authorities, in order to secure Gustafsson’s release.

Reporting by Johan Sennero; Editing by Alison Williams

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