Cantlie was kidnapped by the Islamic State group in November 2012 along with American journalist James Foley, who was eventually beheaded by the extremists. Cantlie, who is in his 40s, appeared in Islamic State group propaganda videos, likely under duress. The extremists featured him as a spokesman in videos posted online by the group's followers and picked up by some TV stations and online outlets.
Before he was taken hostage, Cantlie worked for several British publications, including The Sunday Times, The Sun and The Sunday Telegraph. Wallace said the British government's policy is not to pay ransoms for hostages.