Kidnap & Ransom update – February 26, 2019
26-Feb-19

AMERICAS

1. (TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, 12/02/19) Trinidadian police rescue kidnapped Venezuelan

Officers of the Southern Division police locked down the Solomon Hochoy Highway and rescued a Venezuelan national who was reportedly kidnapped in the town of Diego Martin on the night of 11 February. The woman was found seated in the back seat of a car that was intercepted along the south-bound lane of the highway at around 10pm. The roadblock had been set up by the police after receiving reports on the kidnapping and information that the getaway vehicle was headed south on the highway. All exits of the south-bound lane had been sealed off from Chaguanas to Debe, and after 30 minutes, the vehicle was intercepted. FULL ARTICLE

2. (VENEZUELA, 15/02/19) Kidnapped Trinidadian rescued by Venezuelan military

A 58-year-old expatriated Trinidadian woman and her Venezuelan son were rescued by members of the Venezuelan National Guard, after being kidnapped for an unspecified period of time. The rescue of Marie Claire Theozile and Osvaldo Theozile, reportedly took place in La Penita, Miranda state, on 12 February. According to local press, the military officials were confronted by three of the kidnappers, who were killed in the operation. FULL ARTICLE (1)

3. (VENEZUELA, 25/02/19) Group of foreign journalists illegally detained

On 25 February, a team of seven foreign journalists working for US-based TV network Univision, were illegally detained by Venezuelan security forces at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, reportedly on orders of President Nicolás Maduro. The illegal arrest took place after the leader of the team, Jorge Ramos, interviewed the president. Reportedly, Maduro disliked the questions, ordering to stop the recording, confiscate the equipment and detain the journalists. The journalist were released after 24 hours, although without their equipment and material. Journalists’ associations condemned this and other attacks against journalists and the restrictions on their work in Venezuela, including illegal detentions, confiscation of equipment, content censorship and Internet blockades. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

4. (MEXICO, 25/02/19) New kidnapping tactic reported in central Mexico

Citizens in Puebla State have denounced on social networks what it seems to be a developing tactic for kidnapping in the state. This tactic consists in criminals removing license plates from cars. As owners are about to leave, the kidnappers call their attention by showing the “fallen” plates. Victims are then kidnapped as they come out of their cars to get their plates. According to denouncing citizens, at least three such incidents have recently taken place in Puebla City. FULL ARTICLE

EUROPE

5. (RUSSIA, 25/02/19) Tajik opposition activist kidnapped in Moscow

On 24 February, international rights groups claimed that the Russian security services connived with Tajikistan to abduct a Tajik opposition activist in Moscow and forcibly return him to his home country, where he faces fabricated charges. After his alleged kidnapping, Sharofiddin Gadoyev suddenly resurfaced in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, on 15 February, claiming on a video uploaded on social media that he had returned willingly. In the days that followed, more videos and photos surfaced on the internet, all posted with the apparent attempt to demonstrate that Gadoyev was not under duress. According to the denouncing rights groups, Gadoyev, who enjoys asylum status in the Netherlands, was tortured and coerced into recoding the said videos. These groups have said having evidence, including a ticket to the Netherlands and a video where he expresses fear for his security, which indicate he was abducted. Additionally, unnamed sources told the rights groups that Gadoyev’s car had been stopped by another vehicle, which was occupied by Russian security services. Reportedly, he was bundled into the second car and then driven to Moscow’s Domodedovo airport where he would take a Somon Air flight to Dushanbe. Meanwhile, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said they have knowledge that Gadoyev has been placed under arrest and is being charged with criminal activities. The Tajik Interior Ministry has previously said he is wanted on suspicion of possessing contraband and forging documents. FULL ARTICLE

MIDDLE EAST

6. (IRAN, 24/02/19) Iran frees French woman held since October 2018

On 24 February, the Iranian official news agency, quoting a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, announced the release of a French citizen “in the past few days”, after charges against her were dropped. No more details were provided by the Iranian authorities. The announcement came days after France’s foreign minister discussed her case in parliament on 20 February. According to Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the woman, identified as Nelly Erin-Cambervelle, who is a businesswoman from Martinique, had been arrested in October 2018 in the Iranian island of Kish. She had been accused of entering the country illegally and allegedly signing an illegal mining contract. At the time of her arrest, a friend of the woman said she had been arrested for illegally buying gold after originally going to Kish to negotiate a minerals contract. She also affirmed the Iranian authorities were demanding 40,000 euros (USD 45,000) for her release. FULL ARTICLE (1)

7. (YEMEN, 25/02/19) American national released after 18-month captivity in Yemen

President Donald Trump announced on 25 February that American citizen Danny Burch was freed after 18 months of captivity in Yemen, in what the State Department suggested was a rescue operation. In his statement, Trump thanked the United Arab Emirates for its role in Burch’s release. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo additionally thanked Robert O’Brien, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the FBI’s Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell for working to free Burch. The White House did not provide additional details on Burch’s case, citing privacy concerns. Burch, who is married to a Yemeni national, had lived in the country for several years, working for an oil company. He was reportedly kidnapped by Houthi rebels in the capital, Sanaa, in September 2017. In his statement after Burch’s release, President Trump said that freeing Americans held overseas is a priority of his administration” and added that 20 American captives have been released during his tenure. According to press reports, among the hostages recently released are three American citizens released in North Korea (May 2018), one in Venezuela (May 2018) and a missionary released in Turkey (October 2018). FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3) (4)

AFRICA

8. (EGYPT, 24/02/19) Family of Canadian detained in Egypt calls on government to help

The family of a detained Egyptian man with Canadian citizenship is calling on the Canadian government to step in after they were informed that he is being held in a notorious prison without charge. Yasser Ahmed Albaz had been in Egypt on a business trip for his engineering firm since December 2018. He was detained at Cairo International Airport on 18 February, when trying to board his flight back to Canada. His passport was confiscated and he was reportedly told by an official that his name had been flagged for investigation. According to Albaz’ family, he has been traced to Torah prison in Cairo, which is notorious for housing political prisoners ad for its poor conditions. Meanwhile, the Canadian authorities have said they are aware of the detention and that consular services are being provided. However, they refused to provide further information citing privacy concerns. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

ASIA

9. (INDIA, 24/02/19) Boy’s kidnappers arrested in Uttar Pradesh

On 22 February, five men were arrested for allegedly kidnapping for ransom of a 13-year-old boy in the city of Ghaziabad. The boy was kidnapped on 10 February when he went to a local stationary shop. The kidnappers had demanded Rs 2 crore (USD 282,000) as ransom, but following negotiations, the amount was brought down to Rs 10 lakh (USD 14,000). The boy was released by the kidnappers on the night of 14 February, upon payment of the ransom. Acting on a tip off, police arrested the kidnappers, recovering Rs 8 lakh (USD 11,000) of the ransom paid by the boy’s parents. FULL ARTICLE

10. (BANGLADESH, 24/02/19) Hijack attempt on Dubai-bound airplane

At approximately 1740 local time on 24 February, a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight to Dubai made an emergency landing at Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport after a man armed with a pistol threatened to blow up the aircraft. The suspect reportedly attempted to breach the cockpit and told the pilot that he needed to speak to his wife and Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Upon arrival, Bangladeshi security forces surrounded the aircraft on the tarmac and all 134 passengers and 14 crew members were safely evacuated. Reports state the alleged hijacker was shot and killed when security forces stormed the aircraft at approximately 1920 local time, after he refused to comply. The Bangladeshi authorities later confirmed the man was carrying a toy pistol and had no explosives. Investigators said the suspect, a Bangladeshi man, was psychologically deranged as a result of marital problems, and had no immediate ties to terrorism. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)