A government minister in the Philippines confirmed to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday that ransom was paid to the guerrilla group Abu Sayyaf to secure the release of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad. His late wife’s family in the Philippines put up the money, Peace Minister Jesus Dureza told NRK.
Speculation has swirled over whether any ransom was paid. The Norwegian government has continued to deny that it contributed to any ransom payments but otherwise wouldn’t comment.
Signals have been mixed in the Philippines. News bureau NTB has reported that Abu Sayyaf itself has claimed it received the equivalent of NOK 10.5 million for both Sekkingstad and three other Indonesian hostages released over the weekend. The Philippines new president Rodrigo Duterte has said earlier that ransom was paid, but Abu Sayyaf didn’t hold up its end of the bargain
Now Dureza has also told NRK that Philippines authorities were cheated twice earlier regarding the release. They were told Sekkingstad would be released when instead two other hostages were freed. Dureza said it was the family of Sekkingstad’s late wife, who ultimately paid ransom. The exact amount remained unclear.