Family kidnapped in Yemen returns to Germany

2nd January 2006, Comments 0 comments

2 January 2006, COLOGNE - A retired German diplomat and his family, who were taken hostage by a disgruntled rural tribe for three days in Yemen, returned to Germany on Sunday aboard a German air force transport.

2 January 2006

COLOGNE - A retired German diplomat and his family, who were taken hostage by a disgruntled rural tribe for three days in Yemen, returned to Germany on Sunday aboard a German air force transport.

Juergen Chrobog, 65, formerly Germany's most senior career diplomat as one of two state secretaries running the Foreign Office, denied in an interview with a German newspaper that his holiday in Yemen had been careless.

In remarks to be published Monday in the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel, he said, "I would never travel to Iraq or Afghanistan or take a look at prehistoric sites in Colombia. I felt completely safe with protection from the government, which organized the trip."

He said he had been invited to Yemen by that country's Foreign Ministry in Sana'a but paid his own way. The Yemenis had planned his itinerary. "I actually wanted to go somewhere completely different," he said.

Chrobog, who was formerly in charge of negotiating the release of other German hostages in foreign lands, said he would neither recommend nor warn against travel to Yemen. "That's up to the Foreign Office to do," he said.

"Yemen is an incredibly beautiful country to travel through, but the conditions must be right."

After stepping off the air force Challenger executive jet sent to bring the family home, Chrobog said he was glad to be home. He said Berlin had not been asked for any ransom, nor had it paid any.

Before he left Aden earlier Sunday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh met with Chrobog and said his government would wage a harsh campaign against the practice of kidnapping foreigners.

Shortly after he spoke, a group of Italians was abducted. Saleh then fired the governors of the two provinces where the kidnappings occurred.

Chrobog, his wife Magda and three adult sons were freed Saturday and flown to Aden after their holiday in the Arabian peninsula nation was turned into an international crisis by the abduction. They were freed after a negotiated settlement with the tribe.

In Aden, Chrobog told reporters, "We also thank the wise tribal elders who were against the abduction and were not in accord with the young kidnappers," adding, "I would like to emphasise that we never felt that our life was under threat."

Chrobog said that from the very outset of the abduction "We realized that there were neither political nor terrorist motivations" behind the act. "Surely, such an experience would not affect our love for Yemen."

DPA

Subject: German news

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