Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has “reason to believe” that Robert Hall, a Canadian man held captive by the Islamic State-linked group Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, has been executed after a ransom deadline expired.
“It is with deep sadness that I have reason to believe that a Canadian citizen, Robert Hall, held hostage in the Philippines since September 21, 2015, has been killed by his captors,” read a statement by the prime minister.
“While Canadian officials are working closely with authorities in the Philippines to formally confirm Mr. Hall’s death, we have compelling reason to believe that reports to this effect are, unfortunately, true.”
Hall was kidnapped in the Philippines last September along with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Filipino woman and fellow Canadian John Ridsdel, who was executed in April by the terrorist group.
Trudeau said the government holds the terrorist group fully responsible for Hall’s murder.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Hall,” said Trudeau.
“They have suffered a terrible loss, and this is a devastating moment for them. Our thoughts are with them as they mourn this tragedy. I would ask that the media respect their privacy, and allow them time to come to terms with their loss.”
In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada said, “We are pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information and are in close contact with Philippines authorities.”
The kidnappers had reportedly previously demanded 300 million pesos ($8.1 million) for each of the foreigners.
In May, a video released by the terrorist group showed Hall calling on the Filipino government to help save him and his two fellow hostages before June 13. The Intelligence group SITE confirmed the video was from Abu Sayyaf, and said the terrorist group described it as “the ‘final message’ from its three hostages.
Ridsdel was killed by Abu Sayyaf militants after being held hostage for seven months. At the time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Ridsdel’s murder an act of “cold-blooded murder,” but maintained that the government would not pay any ransom to the terrorist organization in order to secure the release of Hall.
“I do want to make one thing perfectly crystal clear; Canada does not and will not pay ransom to terrorists, directly or indirectly,” said Trudeau.
“Paying ransom for Canadians would endanger the lives of every single one of the millions of Canadians who live, work and travel around the globe every single year.”
During the G7 summit in May, Trudeau urged fellow Group of Seven leaders to stop paying ransoms for hostages.
Trudeau reiterated his position Monday stating, “Terrorist hostage-takings only fuel more violence and instability. Canada will not give into their fear mongering tactics and despicable attitude toward the suffering of others.”