Turkish, Georgian sailors freed

Turkish, Georgian sailors freed

Three Turkish and 15 Georgian citizens captured aboard a merchant ship by Somali pirates on Sept. 8, 2010, have been released and are on their way to neighboring Kenya, according to Georgian press reports. 

The crew members, who spent 16 months in captivity, are in good health and will be brought back to their countries in short order, Anatolia news agency reported. 

Families of the captive crewmen told the Hürriyet Daily News that they had received news of their loved ones’ release through the shipping company and added that they had not spoken to their relatives yet. The released crewmen are currently onboard a government-controlled ship to Kenya, according to reports. 

A Georgian government delegation dispatched to Somalia upon the order of President Mikheil Saakashvili had been holding talks for several days with the pirates to secure the release of the captive sailors. The pirates had demanded between $3 million to 15 million from the shipping company for the crew’s release, but company officials had refused to pay, Georgian press had earlier reported. The three Turkish sailors, along with 15 Georgian colleagues, were kidnapped in 2010, when Somalian pirates captured their ship, which is Greek-owned but flies a Maltese flag, in the Gulf of Aden.