Somalia Pardons Six Ransom Couriers

Somalia has freed six foreigners, including three Britons, two Kenyans and an American, convicted of illegally bringing money into the country to pay ransom cash to pirates, according to wire reports.

“Because of their illegal arrival, the two planes were each fined $50,000. And the $3.6m in cash has been taken by the government,” government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman said in a BBC report.

The six were given a pardon by Somalian President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed after being sentenced earlier this month to between 10 and 15 years in prison.

The British citizens were named as Matthew Brown, a pilot, and Andrew Oaks and Alex James from Nairobi-based security firm Salama Fikira.

The six foreigners were arrested on May 24 after a plane landed at Mogadishu.

The aircraft was waiting for another small aircraft to come in, collect $3.6m in ransom cash, and fly it to another destination in the country, according to the Somali government.

Since January 1, there have been at least 171 pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia and at the end of May the pirates held 26 vessels and more than 600 hostages, France’s UN envoy Gerard Araud said on June 21.

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