A British couple sailing from the Seychelles to Tanzania was kidnapped by Somali pirates and is now being held for ransom.
Paul and Rachel Chandler, both in their late 50’s, had been sailing since March on their 38-foot sailboat and keeping a blog about their journey. Last week family and friends alerted authorities that they had not heard from the couple in several days, and shortly after, their boat was found in the waters of the Indian Ocean off Somalia.
Pirates boarded the boat while the Chandlers slept and began demanding money. They took all the items of value off the boat and then forced the couple to onto a container shipp they’d seized earlier this month.
The pirates then called a British news station and allowed Chandler to make a statement saying that he and his wife had been kidnapped. So far the pirates have not asked for a ransom, but the assumption is that they will make their demands soon. Luckily, family members of the Chandlers have indicated that they will pay for the safe return of the couple.
With all the news about pirates attacking ships off the Somali coast, I was surprised that someone would sail a small craft through the area. Pirates usually go for bigger ships, but have attacked smaller boats and yachts as well. They assume the people on board will be wealthy and, as in this case, that their families will pay a ransom for them.
Everyone’s favorite extreme travel TV series, Locked Up Abroad, is kicking off another round of new episodes starting tonight at 10pm. The new episodes start off with Locked Up Abroad: Iraq, which follows the story of two foreign journalists kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents in 2004.
Canadian war reporter Scott Taylor and his friend, Turkish journalist Zeynep Tugrul find themselves deep inside post-war Iraq in 2004, on the search for breaking news. After a contact shares a tip on an impending battle between the Americans and insurgents in the Northern Iraqi city of Tall Afar, Taylor and Tugrul head for the action. Yet shortly after the pair enter the city, they seek assistance from apparently-friendly local Iraqi fighters, only to be taken hostage as suspected spies. Scott and Zeynep spend the next five days blindfolded, interrogated and held at gunpoint, fearfully awaiting the life or death ending of their captivity. After four days, Zeynep is finally released, but Scott must stay and face down a final gut-wrenching game of “knife or life,” a series of life or death questions that will determine his fate.
Much like previous seasons of Locked Up Abroad, this summer’s newest installment of harrowing tales remain true to form. They are not so much cautionary tales of “travel gone wrong” as a series documenting individuals who must make do or die decisions. Like in seasons past, Locked Up Abroad focuses on travelers who have covered wars, smuggled drugs or knowingly broken the law. While many of us would find such choices appalling, the series triumphs by not passing judgment on the protagonists despite their flaws, letting them narrate the tale through their own eyes and eventually condemn their own bad decisions as plans go horribly wrong.
It is this objective style of storytelling and thrilling dramatizations that make Locked Up Abroad great television. Check it out tonight, if you dare.
According to reports by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which is controlled by the state, the two reporters have been allowed contact with a consulate. Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic relations with the reclusive Communist state, they met with a representative from the Swedish embassy. Sweden plays the consular role for visitors (willing or otherwise) from many western countries.
What’s missing is a clear description of the charges. It is unclear what the reporters were doing. This will make it difficult to bring the affair to a conclusion.
Though it’s speculation at this point, the charges could carry prison terms of up to two years.