Javinda Ardern says Government "explicit" to keep kiwi nurse identity secure

News 16/04/2019

Jacinda Ardern says the Government was clear to the International Red Cross in its wish to not name kidnapped Kiwi nurse Louisa Akavi.

The Red Cross revealed on Monday Akavi was kidnapped by Islamic State in 2013, and had reportedly been seen alive as recently as December.

But the Prime Minister told The AM Show the case is highly sensitive and she was not in favour of going public with it.

"We have taken different positions around being public about the case."

We made our view known.

"The Red Cross took a view, they kept us in the loop about their decision and what they would be saying. That wasn't tacit support though, us knowing that, around the decision."

She said the Government was "explicit" in its wish to not make the case known to the public, something which media organisations have observed for some time.

"Media outlets in New Zealand have known about this case for a number of years. I think it has been exemplary, the decision that they have made, to manage it and deal with it"

She won't change stance any time soon though, and refused to comment specifically on the case.

"The perspective I have is that this is a case I just do not want to comment on."

We did not want this in the public domain.

"That, for us, was a question of safety."

Her sentiments echo Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who said on Monday Akavi is in great danger in Syria.

"In these situations the priority must be the safety of the hostage and we received clear advice that any publicity would place Louisa at even greater risk," he said in a statement.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Katie Fitzgerald