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The BBC's Stephen Cape
"The ultimatum is the latest in a series of letters"
 real 28k

Thursday, 5 October, 2000, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Final Enigma ransom demand
Bletchley Park Museum
The machine was stolen from Bletchley Park Museum
The person claiming to own a stolen Enigma encoding machine has threatened to destroy it unless he is reimbursed in full by Friday.

A man who claims to be acting on behalf of the owner has sent a series of letters demanding payment for the return of the machine, which he says was bought in good faith.

The typewriter-sized machine, used for decoding Nazi messages during World War II, was stolen from Bletchley Park Museum in Buckinghamshire in April.


The offer is on the table - come and talk to us

Christine Large, Bletchley Park Trust
The latest letter, the fifth sent, gives Bletchley Park Trust until Friday to pay 25,000 - apparently the price paid - or it will be destroyed.

It is understood the Trust has been contacted by a benefactor who has offered to pay the full amount for the Enigma, thought to be one of only three in existence.

The latest letter, written by a man calling himself the Master, states that his client had reluctantly agreed to extend the payment deadline.

'Incomprehensible'

The letter also states that the person who bought the machine is not a thief, and only wants to get back the full amount he paid for the machine.

Last month, Bletchley Park Trust began receiving letters demanding a five-figure sum to compensate the buyer for returning the machine.

enigma machine
The machine is one of only three in existence
A second letter announced that the negotiations were over and the machine would be destroyed.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Chesterman of Milton Keynes CID, who is leading the investigation, said at the time: "Having purchased the Enigma for a large sum of money and then stating an intention to return it to its rightful place, I find it hard to accept that such a person would be prepared to destroy the machine."

Bletchley Park Trust director Christine Large said the trust was prepared to negotiate a deal.

"This is incomprehensible," she said. "We want to do business with the person and have offered to negotiate.

"The offer is on the table - come and talk to us."

The machine has been valued at up to 100,000 by experts.

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