New contact with alleged kidnappers of Norwegian billionaire's wife gives family hope she is alive
Svein Holden, lawyer for the family of Anne-Elisabeth Hagen who has been missing for 12 weeks, says her kidnappers have been in contact with the family. - We see it as a clear sign that she is alive and that the family can get her back, he says.
– Wednesday the 16th of january, the family received a message from the people who say that they have abducted Anne-Elisabeth Hagen, the family’s lawyer Svein Holden announced thursday.
The message received last week, was sent through the net-based platform where there has been some previous form of communication with those claiming to be the kidnappers, through coded messages.
– We have considered their message thoroughly, and decided that it is the right thing to do for me to tell the media about this message that came through the same digital plattform where we have received messages previously. It was not a proof of life, nor proof that the sender has Anne-Elisabeth at this moment, Holden says.
But the family does take the new contact as a sign that the 68 year old woman is alive:
– We take it as a clear sign that Anne-Elisabeth is alive, and that the family can get her back. We do, however, wish to establish better contact with those who have her, so that we can start a good and safe process to get her home in good shape as soon as possible.
Read the whole story here: Wife of Norwegian billionaire missing – ransom demanded
Missing for 12 weeks
Holden does not want to go into detail about the new contact that has been made.
– I and the police will not comment further on the content of the message or give further details about the digital platform that has been used. On behalf of the family, I want to convey that we think that it is a good thing that we have been contacted, he says.
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Anne-Elisabeth disappeared from her home in Lørenskog over twelve weeks ago. Police are working with the main theory that she was abducted. The investigation was conducted in secret during the first 10 weeks after the disappearance, because of threats made to Anne-Elisabeth’s life should police or media get involved.
According to VGs sources, a ransom claim of nine million euros in the crypto currency Monero, equivalent to 88 million Norwegian kroner in today’s exchange rate has been made. The police have advised the family not to pay the ransom, and Holden has previously said that the family has followed that advice.
The ransom note left at the scene of the disappearance and found by husband Tom Hagen, was written in poor Norwegian, according to VG’s sources
During the press conference about the new contact thursday, Holden gave a short summary in english. He does not want to comment on whether there has been communication with the kidnappers in any other language than Norwegian.
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– I will not comment further on the content of the message, the form, or the platform it has been conveyed through, he answers when asked about which language was used.
– Are you sure that this is the same sender?
– From my, and the family’s, point of view we feel certain that it is. It has something to do with how the platform they communicate through is set up, he says.
The digital plattform the alleged kidnappers are using, makes it near impossible to communicate with them. That is the reason why Holden «reached out to» the possible kidnappers during the press conferece:
– The digital plattform is not suited for proper communication. That is why we chose to reach out this way to those who have her, he told VG later thursday.
Family demand proof of life
The surest sign of life from the 68-year old woman was a telephone call with a family member at 9.14 am the day of her disappearance the 31st of october last year.
The family have not received any new proof of life from her in the contact with those claiming to be the kidnappers
– We are glad they have been in contact. We consider it a sign that Anne-Elisabeth is still alive, but we now ask for understanding that we need to know that she is alive, before we can get further into the process of getting her back, Holden says.
He does not want to expand on why he is the one conveying the news of the new contact – and not the police.
– This has been thoroughly considered in cooperation with police, who say that they from 3. pm thursday will be available to comment on the latest development in this mystery disappearance.
– Considering negotiations
– Are you considering to offer a reward for new information that can help the case?
– Our focus is to get Anne-Elisabeth home in good shape. We are considering all alternatives to make that happen. The family is also prepared to go into negotiations, if that is a possibility, but that depends on being given proof that she is alive.
When VG asks whether paying the ransom is an option, Holden answers:
– That is a decision that is not discussed publicly, that the family will make together with police. Our message today is completely in accordance with the advice police have given us, namely that we should receive a sign of life before we take any step forward.
– Why did this message come now?
– We have tried to understand why, but it has been hard to come up with an answer.
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