The Oslo lawyer representing the family of kidnapped Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen said Wednesday afternoon that they had followed police advice and would not meet ransom demands. They instead want confirmation from her abductors that she’s alive and well, and are then “prepared to go into a process” to get her safely home.
Lawyer Svein Holden, best known as one of the lead prosecutors of the ultra-right-wing extremist who killed 77 people on July 22, 2011, told reporters at a mid-afternoon press conference that the Hagen family agreed to go public with the kidnapping case in the hopes it would prod contact with Hagen’s abductors. The 68-year-old Hagen has been missing since October 31, when police believe she was abducted from the family’s home in Fjellhamar in Lørenskog, northeast of Oslo.
Her husband, Tom Hagen, is a wealthy investor and businessman but not among Norway’s super wealthy and opting instead for a modest lifestyle in an area far from being Norway’s most affluent. Holden called Hagen’s wife’s abduction “a gruesome and inhumane action” that her family couldn’t understand. He said they accept, however, police investigators’ main theory that it “has an economic motive.” He said his clients were at a loss for “other motives or who would have played a role in the case.”
Threatened against involving the police
In addition to reportedly finding a ransom note in his home and his wife missing when Tom Hagen returned from work on October 31, he was also threatened against going to the police. Holden said the family ultimately decided to report her disappearance, but police then kept their investigation under wraps, with state broadcaster NRK reporting that they even demanded that neighbours and others questioned in the case refrain from discussing it with anyone else. Police investigators and technicians who have searched the house for any clues or DNA evidence also kept their activities secret, reportedly disguising themselves and their vehicles while they worked.
Holden said the family “has faith” in the police and appreciates all their work and follow-up, even though there are still no suspects after 10 weeks of investigation. Faced with potential witnesses forgetting details that may prove important, and keen to establish contact with the abductors, the family agreed with the police to finally go public with the abduction on Wednesday, and call for tips from the public.
Reward under evaluation
“We hope that by publicizing the case today, we can come in contact with those who have abducted Anne-Elisabeth,” Holden said, also referring to her as “Anne-Lisa.” He stressed that the family doesn’t want any direct contact with the media and he asked the media to respect the family’s privacy “and evaluate whether it’s correct to station reporters and photographers outside the home and workplace of Tom Hagen.”
He referred all requests for factual information about the case to police. He said any questions about the possibility of offering a reward for information leading to Anne-Elisabeth Hagen’s safe return must also be addressed to the police, who have said it’s under evaluation.
Holden also stressed that the family is exhausted after having to live with “so much uncertainty” over such a long period of time. He said the family and the police hoped that publicizing the case “would have a positive effect” towards getting Hagen back home.