A former Australian firefighter who set off on a bicycle tour of Europe to highlight the hunt for his missing son was hoping to be reunited with the boy on Thursday, two and a half years after the child was abducted by his mother.
Ken Thompson said he was still processing the joy of hearing his six—year—old son Andrew had been tracked down and taken into foster care in Amsterdam. Amsterdam police arrested his wife Melinda on Monday following an anonymous e—mail tip he received on Sunday, the day Australians celebrate Father’s Day, he said.
Amsterdam Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Ruth Gorissen said an Australian woman was arrested on an Australian international warrant and jailed while authorities await an extradition request.
She declined to give further details or release the woman’s identity because of Dutch privacy rules, but did say that “there is a minor involved ... a six—year—old son.”
In a telephone interview, Mr. Thompson, who quit his job as deputy commissioner of the New South Wales Fire Brigade to devote more time to searching for his son, said he was overjoyed at the news.
“It is really starting to hit me that he really is here,” he told The Associated Press ahead of a meeting with police at which he hoped to hear when he could see his son again.
Police declined comment on the case and Australian Embassy officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
In a written statement, Mr. Ken Thompson said his son was abducted by his wife in April 2008 in the midst of an Australian Family Court custody hearing. The mother and son flew to Germany and then disappeared.
Australia issued an international arrest warrant that was distributed by Interpol and Mr. Thompson hired private detectives to hunt for the pair.
Frustrated and emotionally drained by the lack of progress, he quit his job and in May began a cycling tour of Europe to chase leads and draw awareness to the plight of parents whose children are abducted by the other parent.
According to his blog of the trip, he pedalled more than 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) in three months across nine countries with a photo of Andrew printed on the back of his cycle shirt and a toy firefighter called Bernie Cinders tied to the handlebars.
He was in the German city of Stuttgart when he got what he initially thought was a hoax e—mail about his son possibly being in Amsterdam.
When the anonymous tip turned out to be true, he stopped pedalling and jumped on a fast train to Amsterdam.
“This happy ending for Ken and Andrew shows that the world is actually quite a small place and that sooner or later, children will be found and returned to their former home country,” a statement on Thompson’s website said. “There are no winners in this tug of love, because the child is always damaged by having his or her home torn apart.”