Page last updated at 22:12 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

Yacht couple held by Somali pirates speak of 'torment'

Rachel Chandler and Mohamed Helmi Hangul
Rachel Chandler is being held at a separate location from her husband

A UK couple kidnapped by Somali pirates have spoken of their loneliness and torment at being separated as their wedding anniversary approaches.

Paul and Rachel Chandler, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were captured while sailing towards Tanzania on 23 October.

In a telephone interview with a Somali television station, Mrs Chandler, 56, said: "I'm obviously very tormented and very, very lonely and worried."

Mr Chandler, 60, described their enforced separation as "torture".

The couple were interviewed approximately two or three weeks ago.

This is torture and we have never in our married life been apart this long
Paul Chandler

Mrs Chandler added: "I spoke to him six, seven or eight days ago but they don't let us.

"We're not together, we've not seen one another for five weeks now but I was allowed to speak to him."

During the interview which was also shown on Monday's ITV News At Ten, Mr Chandler said: "This is torture and we have never in our married life been apart this long and we have our anniversary next Sunday.

"We will have been married 29 years."

Mr Chandler thanked the UK's Somali community after he was told they were doing what they could to aid their release, saying: "It's very nice to know that the Somali community and the UK are concerned about me, I am very grateful."

TV and radio stations serving the community have broadcast regular appeals for the Chandlers' release and held public meetings and demonstrations demanding their freedom.

The pirates have threatened to kill the couple if their demands for $7m (£4.4m) are not met, but the Foreign Office has said it does not pay ransoms or give substantial concessions to pirates.

In February the government defended its policy and said political and diplomatic efforts were ongoing.



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