Accessibility links

Breaking News

Britain's New Government Will Not Pay Pirates' Ransom for Seized Couple

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague says the new government will not pay Somali pirates a ransom for the release of a British couple who were kidnapped seven months ago.

"The United Kingdom's policy of not making or facilitating substantive concessions to hostage takers – including the payment of ransoms – is long standing," said Hague. "Now that policy will not change."

The statement follows an interview with kidnapped couple Paul and Rachel Chandler that was aired on television.

They told journalist Jamal Osman they had been kept apart for almost 100 days of their captivity – a period they described as "torture". But the couple said they were reunited seven weeks ago.

Osman told VOA the couple appeared to be in reasonable health.

"As you can imagine if you are kept as hostage, an hour becomes a week and a day becomes a year and so it is a matter of feeling the time and passing the day," Osman said. "And also in terms of their appearance they lost weight, though they were better than the last time they appeared in a video back in January."

The Chandlers were seized by pirates last October while sailing their yacht near the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.

In a past interview they said they had been physically abused by the pirates. But they told Osman the abuse had stopped. Osman says they still hope to be freed, but have resigned themselves to their current situation.

"The Chandlers, I think mentally they are very strong considering they have been in captivity for seven months, they are an elderly couple who are not used to the environment in Somalia, so I think mentally they are quite strong and coping well," Osman adds.

Rachel Chandler told Osman the pirates regard the pair "as animals" – Osman confirmed that from his own observations.

"As criminals they have no compassion and I would say there was no human decency in that sense," he said. "What they see as, Chandlers unfortunately, they see them as a valuable commodity."

Osman said he spoke to locals in the area who said they wanted to help the Chandlers, but felt powerless against the armed pirates.