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Italy denies paying ransom to free Girls in Syria
Italy denies paying ransom to free Girls in Syria

Italy denies paying ransom to free Girls in Syria

Italy denies paying ransom to free aid workers.

No ransom was paid to free two Italian al-Qaeda hostages in Syria, the Rome government said Friday, denying reports that a 12-million-dollar payment had secured the release of Greta Ramelli and Vanessa Marzullo.

Northern League leader Matteo Salvini said, if true, such a payment would be ‘‘grotesque.”

Hours after Ramelli and Marzullo stepped off a plane in Rome, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told the lower house of Parliament the reports of a ransom “were void of any basis in reality” and expressed surprise ‘‘that these sources were given credit without any verification.”

‘‘We are against paying ransom,” Gentiloni said, adding Italy follows ‘‘the rules and behaviours” shared by the international community.

Gentiloni’s explanation drew scepticism from opposition lawmakers, who said he did not go far enough in clarifying whether there had been any exchange of money.

‘‘Did you pay or not?” asked Maria Edera Spadoni of the 5-Star Movement.
Italian media have speculated that a brief video released on New Year’s Eve contained an encoded ransom message for the Italian government.

Dressed in black garb typical of devout Syrian women, the young aid workers asked the Italian government to help bring them home, with Ramelli saying they could be killed.

The women were kidnapped overnight July 31 on their third visit to Syria as part of a project called Horryaty, which, according to its Facebook page, was aimed at distributing aid in Syria.

It remains unclear who was responsible for their capture, although suspicion has focused on the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front.

Agencies/Canadajournal




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