The Long Road To The Chandlers' Release


A retired English couple, held at gunpoint with no big, multinational shipping company behind them to bail them out, were freed at last after 13 months of stop-start negotiations.

Two factors contributed to their release: the payment of ransoms and the benevolent intervention of the Somali community, both in the UK and in Somalia.

When Somali pirates seized Rachel and Paul Chandler off the Seychelles, hundreds of nautical miles from Somali shores, they took them first to the Somali port of Haradheera and then inland.

A pirates spokesman gave a radio interview demanding a ransom of US $7,000,000 (£4.6m) and those holding them refused to believe they were anything other than millionaires.

The pirates also appeared to believe that the British government would, if necessary, pay the ransom, despite the fact that Britain has a longstanding policy of ""not making substantive concessions to hostage-takers"" on the grounds that this encourages more kidnappings of British citizens.

But negotiations continued behind the scenes involving Somali intermediaries and a firm of consultants hired by the Chandlers' relatives in Britain.