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Did Italy Pay A Ransom For Simona Pari And Simona Torretta? [update]

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simona_pari_simona_torretta_berlusconi.jpg There are numerous reports floating around that Italy paid a $1 million ransom for the release of the two hostages, Simona Pari And Simona Torretta, who were taken hostage September 7th and released on September 28th.


Gustavo Selva, an Italian lawmaker, told French radio a ransom of around $1 million (550,000 pounds) -- a sum already mentioned in Arabic media reports in recent days -- had been handed over.

"In principle, we shouldn't give in to blackmail but this time we had to. Although it's a dangerous path to take because, obviously, it could encourage others to take hostages, either for political reasons or for criminal reasons," Selva told RTL.

"The sum is probably correct," he added.

Earlier this week, one of Kuwait's most respected newspapers, Al-Rai al-Aam, first raised the possibility that the two Simonas might be freed for cash, saying the kidnappers wanted $1 million, down from an initial demand for $5 million.

Man, what mixed feelings. I'm glad they were released, Italy is celebrating, but is it ever the right thing to do?

There's a lot of other commentary on this:
| The Command Post | Say Anything | Outside The Beltway | In The Bullpen |
| Political Animal | Change For America | Full Context | Blog on Blogs |

Update: (Hat tip: Captains Quarters for the update info.)


Italy insisted it did not pay a million-dollar ransom to win the release of two aid workers, as the country rejoiced in the homecoming of the women who said they were ready to return to Iraq to continue their work there.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini insisted "absolutely no ransom" had been paid for the release of Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, both 29, known affectionately by Italians as "the two Simonas".

A proud Frattini said Italy had simply used its "wide system of contacts" in the Arab world, adding that this "made the kidnappers understand concretely what they were dealing with: a country, Italy, loved and esteemed by the Arab world".

"That was our only ransom," he said in an interview with RAI state radio.

So did they pay or not? I don't know. I doubt we'll ever truly find out. However, the information that they did pay a ransom was initially reported by a Kawaiti paper. I would not be surprised that the Italian government would try to cover up a ransom as it makes them look terrible to other countries that are against paying ransoms.

As for them heading back to Iraq, I just don't know what to say. If a ransom was paid it would be horrible to see them abducted again for another ransom payoff. If they were once again abducted and then not released but executed or harmed in some way, the Italian government would look very bad the second time around. Or maybe not, who knows.

Related stories on Diggers Realm:
September 08, 2004
Two Italian Women And An Iraqi Woman And Man Taken Hostage In Iraq

September 10, 2004
Italian Aid Worker Hostage Update, Threats Made Against Denmark

September 13, 2004
Latest On Italian Women Being Held Hostage In Iraq

September 19, 2004
Italian Women Being Held Hostage In Iraq Sold To Zarqawi?

September 23, 2004
Please Be Wrong. Rumor Of Italian Women Hostages Beheaded

September 26, 2004
Italian Women Being Held Hostage In Iraq "In Good Health"?

September 28, 2004
Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, Italian Hostages, Released!

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Posted by Digger on September 29, 2004 12:17 PM (Permalink)

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