Stephen McGowan has come out as strong as ever, says overjoyed father

Former al-Qaeda captive Stephen McGowan has made his first public appearance since being freed earlier this month.

McGowan was abducted by al-Qaeda militants in 2011 along with Swiss national Johan Gustafson, who was released in July.

McGowan returned home last week after almost six years and was in hospital for four nights.

His father, Malcolm McGowan, says his family is ecstatic that he is finally home.

He thanked the South African government, aid group Gift of the Givers and the general public for their thoughts and prayers.

He's home now. I can't tell you how great that is.

Malcolm McGowan father of former hostage Stephen McGowan

LISTEN: How a hostage negotiator risked it all to help get Stephen McGowan home

Finally, the phone call came and they said he is 30 minutes away. We couldn't believe it!

Malcolm McGowan, father of former hostage Stephen McGowan

Malcolm says Stephen's mental state seems to be stronger than expected and adds that his son spent a lot of his time trying advance his knowledge while in captivity.

His mind seems very good.

Malcolm McGowan, father of former hostage Stephen McGowan

He went on the basis that he must come out of this strong.

Malcolm McGowan, father of former hostage Stephen McGowan

He seems to have come out as strong as ever, which I am so pleased about.

Malcolm McGowan, father of former hostage Stephen McGowan

We haven't stopped talking since, about everything that has taken place.

Malcolm McGowan, father of former hostage Stephen McGowan

There's been joyous reunion.

Malcolm McGowan, father of former hostage Stephen McGowan

Malcolm shared some of the stories told by Stephen, how he took the news of his mother's death, and efforts to integrate him into society and improve his physical well-being.

Take a listen:

WATCH: Stephen McGowan makes first public appearance


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by THE NEWSROOM

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