Nicole Vienneau hasn’t been seen since March 21

Two men were arrested in connection with the disappearance of Vancouver woman, but their involvement was probably only a hoax designed to extort reward money, her brother said yesterday.

Nicole Vienneau, 32, disappeared March 21 while backpacking in Syria. Her brother, Matthew Vienneau, an IT consultant in Toronto, has been conducting an exhaustive search for her ever since, including an Internet campaign and the offer of 1,000,000 Syrian pounds ($20,000) reward.

About four weeks ago, Matthew received an e-mail that “indicated (the senders) knew where my sister was and were working to release her,” he said. “The implication was at some point they’d want money or some sort of compensation.”


Matthew forwarded the e-mail to the RCMP, and yesterday two men who had recently been to Syria were arrested in Spain. They confessed to sending the e-mail, but had no knowledge of Nicole’s whereabouts.

“I’m not as angry as people would expect,” Matthew said. “Today I’m happy they’re arrested.”

Matthew’s hope is to find out what happened to his sister, positive or negative, he said.

“At first, it was just inconceivable we’d never know. That’s not how movies work. That’s not how stories go. There’s always an ending of some sort.”

Website set up

Matthew is still looking for anyone who may have had contact with Nicole, above, on her trip. He has set up a website ( with information.

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