MARITIME | Somali pirates free UK couple after 13 months

A retired British couple have been released by Somali pirates after being held captive for more than a year.

Paul, 60, and Rachel Chandler, 56, from Kent, were seized from their yacht off the Seychelles in October 2009.

Mrs Chandler said: “I’m enjoying being free”. The couple said they were fine, but will undergo medical checks.

On release they were taken to Adado, then Mogadishu, and have now arrived in Kenya. The BBC held off reporting the release due to an injunction.

It observed the terms of the order obtained by the Chandlers’ family which was intended to stop news organisations covering their release until they were safely out of Somalia.

Mr Chandler told the BBC: “We’re fine, we’re rather skinny and bony but we’re fine.”

The couple were told they were to be released two days ago, he said.

“We were told on Friday in a way which gave us some confidence to believe it. Otherwise we’d been told we’d be released in 10 days almost every 10 days for the past nine months. So we’d taken all these suggestions with a pinch of salt.”

Asked if he had felt their lives had been in danger during captivity, he said: “That’s something we’ll talk about later, but we were not really directly endangered by the gang, after the initial seizure.”

The husband and wife both stressed that the conditions of their captivity were not important, with Mr Chandler saying: “You can see from our state that we suffered no serious physical harm.”

However, he added: “We were beaten once.”

Prime Minister David Cameron described the release as “tremendous news”.

“We will ensure that they are reunited with their family as quickly as possible.

“I unreservedly condemn the actions of those that held the Chandlers for so long. Kidnapping is never justified.”




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