CAIRO: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied Wednesday having any role in freeing the 34 fishermen kidnapped by pirates off the Somali coast.
Hossam Zaki, foreign ministry spokesman, said, “The foreign ministry didn’t by any means attribute to itself any direct role in freeing the 34 Egyptian fishermen from their kidnappers.
The ministry recently came under heavy criticism from journalists and commentators who claimed the ministry took credit for freeing the fishermen, who were seized by pirates last April.
“Some press reports [made false claims] about our role based on misleading testimonies and truncated statements that were taken out of context, Zaki said.
“The foreign ministry is a diplomatic institution that respects international laws and does not depend on arms and weapons, he added.
Ahmed Samara, owner of one of the kidnapped vessels, told Daily News Egypt that freeing the kidnapped fishermen is not the ministry’s responsibility since it is a diplomatic body not a military one.
“It is not an easy mission to free fishermen from pirates, the foreign ministry couldn’t handle fighting operations offshore, he said.
Wael Talaat, from the ministry’s press office, told Daily News Egypt, “The foreign ministry is a diplomatic body not an armed one. It carried out its role according to its diplomatic nature and ensured their safe arrival.
There have been conflicting reports about how the fishermen managed to escape.
State-run newspapers reported that the vessel’s owner Hassan Khalil tried to persuade the pirates to board his boat to convince them to reduce the ransom to $400,000 from $800,000, causing a dispute between them and distracting them as hired Somali gunmen climbed aboard.
This is inconsistent with other reports by some of the fishermen, who claimed a major role by the Egyptian intelligence in freeing them.
Egyptian authorities announced earlier that the eight captured pirates are expected to stand trial and they will be treated “in accordance with international law.