With Several Hostage Crises in Past 5 Years, Nation Knows About Yellow Ribbons

Former Prime Minister Andrus Ansip wore a yellow ribbon during the 2011 kidnapping of Estonian cyclists in Lebanon. (ERR)
9/8/2014 9:22 AM
Category: International

Long foreign military missions aside, in the last five years a total of nine Estonians have been held hostage by terrorists and pirates, while there have been high-profile cases involving 15 Estonians seized by foreign governments in dubious circumstances and denied due process.

That also includes the latest captive, security police official Eston Kohver, who in an unprecedented incident is believed to have been abducted on Estonian soil near the border on Friday and taken to Russia.

The hostage crises have been resolved through international cooperation and at great cost - while judicial cases tend to be trickier, with fewer options at hand to allow overweening flawed foreign judicial systems to save face.

Kohver, who was taken to Moscow, faces charges of espionage and a possible prison term of 20 years. That report dismayed many who hoped for a possible resolution at a lower level. Kohver has not been allowed to meet with Estonian consular officials.

Previous incidents:

1. March 23, 2011 - Seven cyclists kidnapped in Lebanon by radical groups and held for part of the time in Syria.

Released? Yes, alive and well, July 14, 2011. A French site claimed Estonia paid a 5 million euro ransom; officially stated logistical costs of the release were 280,000 euros.

2. October 15, 2012 - Estonian seaman and decorated graduate of Maritime Academy Siim Sokk taken hostage by pirates in Nigeria, along with six Russians.

Released? Yes, alive and well, November 1, 2012

3. October 18, 2013 - Fourteen Estonians, many of them veterans of the professional Defense Forces, were detained in India (along with Ukrainians and British) after the private maritime security ship they were serving on sailed into national waters.

Released? Yes, but not allowed to leave India. Weapons charges dropped against crew, but facing prosecutorial appeals and still without exit visas. 

4. May 26, 2014 - Ret. Col. Tõnu Asson, OSCE observer in Ukraine, kidnapped by separatists.

Released? Yes, alive and well, June 26, 2014

5. September 5, 2014 - Decorated counterintelligence agency officer Eston Kohver abducted in a Russian incursion - taking the Estonian version on faith - on the Estonian side of the Russian border.


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