Italy denies paying a ransom to free aid workers who were being captive by the al-Qaeda terrorist group. Canada Journal reports on Saturday, Jan. 17, that Foreign Minister Paulo Gentiloni told other government officials that the rumors were “void of any basis in reality.” Gentiloni appeared to be surprised by the question and expressed that, “these sources were given credit without any verification.”
The two Italian aid workers were abducted on July 31 near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, three days after they had arrived from Turkey. The women were taken hostage while seeking to provide healthcare in the embattled city. The women appeared in a video released December 31, begging the Italian government to pay a ransom being asked by their captors, or they will be killed.
However, a television station in Dubai reported that Italy paid the $12 million ransom to secure the release of Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli. There were no other facts produced at the time of the broadcast by Al Aan. The Rome government is still denying the report.
“We are against paying ransom,” Gentiloni said, adding Italy follows “the rules and behaviors” shared by the international community. But lawmakers said the Foreign Minister didn’t clarify whether there had been any exchange of money. The explanation still doesn’t sit well with many of the members in Parliament.
Once returned to Italy, the two women were then taken to a hospital for observation before meeting with Rome’s anti-terrorist prosecution office, which has opened an investigation into their abduction.
“I’m feeling enormous joy: this is the news I have been waiting for for a long time,” Salvatore Marzullo, father of Vanessa, said after hearing news of their release. “I am so, so happy,” he said.
The Italian foreign ministry said their release was a culmination of “intense work by team Italy.” Officials have not released details of how the women came to be freed. In the meantime, the reports that the country paid for their release has been met with skepticism until there’s more clarity about the release.