Two Finnish hostages who spent more than four months in captivity in Yemen returned home on Friday, little more than a day after being released.
Atte and Leila Kaleva, a married couple, arrived at Helsinki airport on a special plane chartered by the Finnish government, evading journalists waiting for them.
"We are happy to be back in Finland," said the couple in a statement read aloud by an official from the Finnish foreign ministry.
The two Finns and an Austrian man, 26-year-old Dominik Neubauer, were seized in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on December 21.
They were freed by local tribesmen on the border with Oman on Wednesday night, according to a Yemeni official.
The couple said in their statement that during their captivity they had been fed well and had access to medicine if needed.
They thanked the Finnish media for not having unveiled their identities during their captivity.
After the successful conclusion of the case, several media reported that they knew who the hostages were but chose to remain silent.
Disclosure of their identities could have complicated efforts to seek their release, as Atte Kaleva, a military officer currently on leave, was in Yemen to do research for a university thesis on political radicalization in the Middle East. His wife is a petroleum industry executive.
While the Austrian press said a ransom had been paid to secure the release of the Austrian hostage, the Finnish government denied any payment.
"The most important thing is that Finland has paid nothing," said Teemu Turunen, an official with the foreign ministry.
"At no time" had the Finnish negotiators been in direct contact with the kidnappers, he said.
|Copyright © 2012 Naharnet.com. All Rights Reserved.