Kidnapped Dutch couple appears in video online
SANA’A, July 17 — A 90-second video released online showed Dutch journalist Judith Spiegel and her husband Boudewijn Berendsen for the first time since they disappeared from their home in Sana’a in early June, which was confirmed by local authorities on June 15.
A user, identified as “Desert Lion,” posted the video on YouTube on July 13. Journalists and social media users circulated it on Monday on social networks. The videos quality is poor, leading experts to guess it may have been taken using a cell phone camera.
In the video, Spiegel said her unidentified captors have provided a ten-day time frame for their demands to be met or she and Berendsen face execution.
“We have spoken to the Dutch ambassador and told him what the conditions are to get out of here, but until now nothing’s happened,” Spiegel said in her native language.
Spiegel made a plea to the Dutch government to intervene, calling on the media to apply pressure to the Dutch government to meet the kidnappers’ demands.
Meanwhile, the Dutch Foreign Minister, Frans Timmermans, posted a statement on his Facebook page saying the ministry is concerned about the safety of the two kidnapped Dutch citizens and is giving this case their “full attention.” The posting made no mention of actions to be taken on the part of the Dutch government.
No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
Foreign abductions in Yemen are often blamed on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This bothers Ahmed Al-Zorqa, a political analyst, who says these assumptions are made without factual information. In this case, most experts agree Al-Qaeda isn’t involved.
Kidnapping happen periodically in Yemen. Often times tribesmens abduct foreigners as a bargaining tool against the government. They are usually released unharmed.
But, Al-Zorqa says the damage of such kidnapping can be catastrophic for Yemen. It hurts diplomatic relations and discourages tourism in the Arab nation, he said.
Spiegel has been residing in Sana’a since 2009. She has reported for several Duch media outlets and also teaches at a private university in Sana’a. Berendsen works for an insurance company.