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MOSCOW — Finnish investigators say a ransom demand has been made for a freighter that disappeared more than two weeks ago.
It is unclear, however, if the demand from purported hijackers of the Arctic Sea was legitimate.
Markku Ranta-Aho of Finland's National Bureau of Investigation told national YLE radio Saturday that "a ransom demand has been made and it was addressed to the shipping company which is based in Finland, and let's say it's a largish amount of money." He did not give details.
A Russian maritime Web site said Saturday that the ship's tracking system had sent signals Saturday from the Bay of Biscay off France, but French Marines rejected that and said the ship is likely somewhere off West Africa around Cape Verde.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian maritime Web site said the tracking system for a freighter missing since last month was broadcasting signals on Saturday from the Bay of Biscay, but French Marines said the signals were coming from Russian warships.
The contradictory claims deepened the mystery surrounding the ship, the Arctic Sea. On Friday, widespread reports suggested it may be in the vicinity of Cape Verde, off the coast of Africa some 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) south of the Bay of Biscay.
The respected Sovfrakht maritime site said the ship's signal appeared on a tracking service about 0830 GMT (4:30 a.m. EDT) Saturday in the Bay of Biscay.
The site cautioned, however, that the Arctic Sea's Automatic Identification System equipment may not be on the ship itself anymore. The signal disappeared after about an hour, it said.
Hours later, French Marines spokesman Capt. Jerome Baroe said the signals in question had come from Russian warships that were heading from the Mediterranean to the Baltic Sea. Those ships apparently are different from the vessels that the Russian Navy dispatched this week to search for the Arctic Sea.
The freighter, carrying a load of timber, has been missing since July 28 after passing through the English Channel.
Crew members had reported that the ship was attacked in Swedish waters on July 24 by up to a dozen masked men, who they said tied them up, questioned them about drug trafficking, beat them and searched the freighter before leaving.
Such an attack would have been unusual in European waters, and raised questions because it was not reported until the freighter had passed through Britain's busy shipping lanes. There have been fears that some of the attackers might still be aboard, or that the ship came under attack a second time.
Radio messages from the freighter were later picked up along coasts of France and Portugal, but efforts to pinpoint the Arctic Sea's whereabouts have been difficult in the vast Atlantic and with no communication from the ship's 15-member Russian crew.
Cape Verde authorities said they had no new information Saturday, though Russia's ambassador to the country, Alexander Karpushin, said there was no confirmation the Arctic Sea had been found.
Baroe said it is "extremely probable" that the ship is off Cape Verde. He said the French Marines operational center in Brest had received no information indicating the ship is off the French coast, and so has launched no search in that area.
The Arctic Sea, which left from Finland on July 23, had been due to make port Aug. 4 in Algeria with its euro1.3 million ($1.8 million) haul of timber.
The European Commission suggested the ship may have come under attack a second time off the Portuguese coast, spokesman Martin Selmayr said Friday.
Portugal's Foreign Ministry said, however, that the ship was never in Portuguese waters.
The ship's operator, Solchart Arkhangelsk, said it had no information about a possible second attack. It said the Arctic Sea's captain was 50-year-old Sergei Zaretsky, a veteran of such sea voyages, and the sailors were from the northwest Russian port city of Arkhangelsk.
Speculation on what might have happened to the ship has ranged from suspicions that it was carrying secret cargo — possibly narcotics — to theories about a commercial dispute. Security experts have been wary of attributing its disappearance to bandits, noting that piracy is almost unheard of in European waters.
"It would seem that these acts, such as they have been reported, have nothing in common with 'traditional' acts of piracy or armed robbery at sea," Selmayr said.
Originally posted by northwoods
What comes to wondering why hijackers are demanding so late the ransoms (after two weeks aso.).
That's the view how we see it.
Police authorities are investigating case immediately after 24.7. when possible first hijack occurred. At least what I know about Finnish and Swedish Police Auhtoratives and their politics, I can say that they will come to public with information that do not harm the investigation. So this I think is the case here. Cannot tell every details to the press all the time. Only after they can be sure that information does not effect bad way to investigation. Think that first when you are making idea of some huge conspiracy theory of nukes or something other.
Moscow: A Russian maritime website said the tracking system for a freighter missing since last month was broadcasting signals on Saturday from the Bay of Biscay, but French Marines said the signals were coming from Russian warships. The contradictory claims deepened the mystery surrounding the ship, the Arctic Sea. On Friday, widespread reports suggested it may be in the vicinity of Cape Verde, off the coast of Africa some 3,200 kilometres south of the Bay of Biscay. The respected Sovfrakht maritime site said the ship's signal appeared on a tracking service about 0830 GMT on Saturday in the Bay of Biscay. The site cautioned, however, that the Arctic Sea's Automatic Identification System equipment may not be on the ship itself anymore. The signal disappeared after about an hour, it said.
Hours later, French Marines spokesman Captain Jerome Baroe said the signals in question had come from Russian warships that were heading from the Mediterranean to the Baltic Sea. Those ships apparently are different from the vessels that the Russian Navy dispatched this week to search for the Arctic Sea.
11th August : OTTAWA -- The air force has sent a surveillance plane to keep tabs on two Russian attack submarines cruising off the East Coast in a patrol that harkens back to the Cold War. The nuclear-powered subs were first spotted in international waters off Georgia on Aug. 5, raising eyebrows, but no sharp response from either the U.S. or Canada. Defence sources say it's believed the Akula II Class warships have since moved north, and remain outside of Canadian and American territorial limits, which extends 12 nautical miles into the ocean. It's unclear whether Canada took the initiative to have a CP-140 Aurora patrol plane watch the vessels, or whether there was a request from the U.S. Northern Command which tracks submarines.
Originally posted by Hellmutt
Al Qaeda has managed to buy one or more suitcase nukes from the Russian mafia and got it planted on the ship somehow. Bin laden has a lot of money and the Russian mafia (if given enough money) could do such a thing. The Russian mafia could have arranged for the nukes to be placed on the ship, with or without the crew being aware of what the cargo is. An Al Qaeda sleeping cell in Sweden then took over the ship near the Swedish coast. The ship could now be heading towards Cumbre Vieja or some port somewhere. I hope I'm wrong...
Just adding to this theory before I go to bed. Two sleeping cells. Team A boarded the ship near Sweden, in order to make sure that the nukes were really there. Made sure that the mafia held their part of the deal, and then left the ship. Then team B could have boarded the ship after it passed the english channel.
Originally posted by northwoods
Latest news from KRP (Finnish Central Criminal Police). Highest Police auhtority in Finland, pretty similar than Criminal Investigation Department in England.
KRP has commented that Arctic Sea-case has been very widely investigated from very early stage co-operating with Swedish Police, Interpol and Europol. So far there has been different level of co-operating investigation with over 20 different countries. KRP also commented: "investigation is focused on very serious blackmail and hijack. Nothing further cannot be commented at this point"
Originally posted by Gordi The Drummer
reply to post by wraith001
LOL Yeah, I like a bit of Mahogany myself!!
I keep coming back to the point that the reported 1st boarding, was radioed in, FOUR DAYS after it supposedly happened??
Why wait 4 days?
Was it actually the crew who radioed in?
Was the vessel already under someone elses control? and the reported boarding was simply to stir up confusion... and lay the foundations for a "piracy" cover up?
Originally posted by wraith001
You'd think common sense would tell you after being boarded and seriously injured they would port asap.
Originally posted by hande
Ok, maybe old information but today in Finland tv news said that hi-jackers could kill ship crew and (?) this is reason for silence and disinformation. They are waiting ransom money?
[edit on 15-8-2009 by hande]