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FM Soini: Finland did not pay ransom for release of aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan

Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini confirmed on Thursday that the Finnish aid worker who was kidnapped in Afghanistan in May has been freed. Soini said Finland did not pay a ransom for the woman's release, saying that doing so would encourage others to carry out more kidnappings.

Ulkoministeri Timo Soini
Timo Soini Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini - speaking to reporters via a video feed from Washington DC to a press conference held at a ministry building in Helsinki on Thursday afternoon - said he condemned all forms of crime, particularly kidnappings.

His comments came just hours after the announcement of the release of a female Finnish aid worker who was kidnapped in Kabul, Afghanistan in May.

Soini added that he has spoken with the released woman by telephone.

The National Bureau of Investigation's Detective Superintendent Thomas Elfgren said the released woman was in good condition considering the circumstances, and that she is being examined by physicians.

Director of the Foreign Ministry's Unit for Consular Assistance, Juha Savolainen told reporters his department was happy that the kidnap victim was released.

Savolainen said it remains unclear when the released woman would be able to return to Finland, but said officials are working to make that happen as soon as possible.

NBI: Kidnapping was planned

The National Bureau of Investigation's Detective Superintendent Thomas Elfgren said that according to his agency's information the kidnapping was planned in advance.

Elfgren said the kidnapping case would continue in Finland as a preliminary investigation, and primarily be carried out in the form of assistance for officials in Afghanistan.

Citing the ongoing investigation, neither Elfgren nor Savolainen would answer more detailed questions from reporters.

Soini in Washington DC

Soini is currently in Washington attending a gathering of the Community of Democracies hosted by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. On the agenda at that gathering is fighting terrorism and the situation in North Korea.

In addition, Soini is meeting members of the US Congress and Senate and participating in the Finnish Embassy's celebrations of Finland's independence centenary.

Soini's trip comes as the US and Russian deputy foreign ministers are meeting in Helsinki.

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