Capitulating to the demands of abductors will only bankroll terrorist activities, says Erkki Tuomioja (SDP), the Minister for Foreign Affairs.Finland did not pay or ask a third party to pay ransom for the release of Leila and Atte Kaleva from captivity in Yemen, Erkki Tuomioja (SDP), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, emphasised on Wednesday, after The New York Times reported that millions of euros was paid to the terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda for the release of the Finnish couple.

“Finland hasn't paid anything or asked anyone else to pay anything,” Tuomioja stated.

“This is a clear policy for us, as it is also in line with international treaties. [Paying ransom] only sustains the kidnapping activities used to bankroll terrorism,” the minister stressed to Helsingin Sanomat.

An investigation by The New York Times indicates that Al-Qaeda has received at least 125 million dollars, equivalent to some 93 million euros, in ransom since 2008 – including the estimated 15.9 million euros paid to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012—2013 for the release of the Finnish couple, the Austrian man abducted alongside them and a Swiss man abducted in a separate attack.

In an interview with the American daily, Atte Kaleva reveals that the abductors engaged in close negotiations during their captivity. “There were lots of letters back and forth.”

“It was clear that [the abductors] had a hierarchy, and they were consulting their leaders about what to do with us.”

The ransom, The New York Times writes, was paid by Oman and Qatar.

Tuomioja on Wednesday pointed out that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs does not know the identity of the possible ransom payer. “It's nothing but speculation, and we don't participate in that. We know Oman took part in mediating the release, and we thank them for that,” he said.

The National Bureau of Investigation (KRP) similarly insists that it is unaware of any ransom paid for the release of Leila and Atte Kaleva. “I have no knowledge of any ransom being paid. I have no further comments to make,” Thomas Elfgren, the KRP officer in charge of the investigation, stated to Helsingin Sanomat.

KRP continues to assist foreign authorities in investigating the abduction.

Ville Similä, Johanna Sjöholm – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva