The Prime Minister's press statement on Norwegian hostage in Syria

Office of the Prime Minister, 9 September 2015

ISIL’s brutality has no limits. Now it has been directed at one of our own.

Today we can confirm that a Norwegian citizen is being held hostage in Syria. Everything indicates that ISIL is responsible.

We believe it is now appropriate to confirm certain information about the case, and we wish to provide the information that we can at this time.

At the end of January Norwegian authorities were made aware of a possible kidnapping of a Norwegian citizen in Syria.

The Norwegian hostage – a man in his 40s – is thought to have been kidnapped inside Syria at the end of January this year.

In the period since then he has been held captive by different groups, but we currently have reason to believe that he is being held by ISIL.

The kidnappers have put forward a series of demands for significant ransom amounts.

As soon as the Norwegian authorities were alerted to the kidnapping, a crisis team was set up under the leadership the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with participation by the National Police Service’s crisis and hostage negotiation service, the Norwegian Intelligence Service, the National Criminal Investigation Service, the Norwegian Police Security Service and the National Police Directorate.

The work of the crisis staff continues with full vigour.

We have mobilised all relevant forces that Norwegian authorities have at their disposal in dealing with this matter.

We are working with several other countries and with their various services. We are also in contact with various parties in the region that could potentially assist our efforts.

Our goal is to bring our citizen home. But let me be clear: This is a very challenging case.

The Government’s Security Council (RSU) has been regularly informed about developments in the case. The parliamentary leaders have also been briefed.

It is hard to comprehend the extreme strain that a Norwegian citizen and his family are currently enduring.

Our authorities have been following up with the family and providing information as it becomes available. It’s difficult to imagine the fear and uncertainty they have lived with and continue to live with.

They have been informed of the developments in the case this evening.

I would strongly urge the media to respect their privacy.

This is a matter that the government is taking very seriously.

We neither can nor will give in to pressure from terrorists and criminals.

Norway does not pay ransom. This is a principle we cannot depart from in the face of cynical terrorists.

Payment of ransom would increase the risk that other Norwegian nationals will be taken hostage.

We are also bound by international law and UN resolutions to counter terrorist financing.

Unfortunately, the attention the organisation is now receiving in Norway is exactly what it must want.

This is a matter that challenges us as a nation. We’re up against forces that recognise no other language than violence and hatred.

ISIL’s brutality has driven millions of people from their homes in Iraq and Syria and cost thousands of lives.

ISIL must be stopped. Norway is contributing and will continue to contribute to this fight.

We have seen images like these before. Now it is a Norwegian family that’s experiencing fear and terror for one of its loved ones.

More than ever, it will now be important that we stand together and stand up for what we believe in.