Kidnapped Crew Could Soon Be Free
Ransom Delivered to Pirates on German Freighter
The end of the pirate-hijack drama could be in sight for the crew of the freighter Hansa Stavanger. A ransom payment worth millions has been made, the EU's Operation Atlanta has confirmed. But it is still uncertain when the crew, who have been held for four months, will be released.
There's new hope for the crew of the hijacked German-owned ship, the Hansa Stavanger. This Monday a ransom of millions was handed over to the pirates holding the ship off the coast of Somalia -- the pirates have been holding the freighter, owned by Hamburg shipping firm, Leonhardt and Blumberg, for several months now.
A spokesperson for the European Union counter-piracy operation,
Operation Atalanta, which has several warships patrolling the pirate-infested area, confirmed the
ransom transfer. "The money is on board and the pirates are counting it," the spokesperson told SPIEGEL ONLINE, although he would not elaborate further.
Through sources close to German intelligence agencies and local sourcees, SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that a small plane was used to throw a package containing $2.75 million (€ 1.9 million) worth of ransom onto the Hansa Stavanger. It is hoped that when the money has been counted
the ship and the crewwill be set free. Whether that will still happen on Monday is uncertain although the security authorities estimate a release should happen within 24 hours.
The government in Berlin could not confirm the reports. The German Foreign Ministry has a policy of only commenting on kidnappings when diplomats are certain that the hostages are safe. The Federal Criminal Police Office was also unable to confirm the reports.
However news agency Reuters spoke with one of the pirates by phone on Monday morning. The man, who gave his name as Abdi, confirmed the delivery of the ransom and said that once the money has been divided, the crew would be let go.
The Hansa Stavanger was hijacked by pirates on April 4 this year, around 400 sea miles (645 kilometers) off Somalia. There are five Germans, three Russians, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos in the crew.
Gangs of Somali pirates have made millions of dollars in ransom payments by kidnapping ships that sail the shipping lanes linking Asia and Europe.