Ex-hostage urges kidnapped couple to remain positive

PUBLISHED: 10:57 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:19 12 August 2010

A FORMER hostage who was subjected to mock executions says the best hope for a couple held captive by Somali pirates is to stay positive,

A FORMER hostage who was subjected to mock executions says the best hope for a couple held captive by Somali pirates is to stay positive, even though inside they might be "scared to death".

Plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke, from Lullingstone, spoke to the Times as Rachel and Paul Chandler made a desperate plea to the British government to help secure a £4 million ransom.

The Tunbridge Wells couple were kidnapped by pirates while sailing from the Seychelles towards Tanzania in their yacht Lynn Rival on October 23.

A new video shows them pleading for help, suffering physically and mentally after 100 days in solitary confinement.

Mr Hart Dyke was on a plant-hunting expedition in the Darien Gap, Colombia, in 2000 with travelling partner Paul Winder. Just miles from their destination they were held captive by bandits and marched through the jungle at gunpoint for more than nine months.

Times columnist Mr Hart Dyke said: "The British government will not pay the ransom. It's a desperate situation but the government has its policy.

"It's really scary but you have got to keep going however tough it may seem. You've got to show your captors that everything is fine, even though inside you might be scared to death and try to persuade them that you don't have the money to pay a ransom.

"There will be a lot of mind games going on. In Colombia our captors threatened to kill us. At the time it was no joke.

"But it's imperative to be polite with your captors, be well-mannered, say please and thank-you. They never crossed the boundary and beat us up. There was some sort of etiquette.

"The only reason we are alive, despite having a gun put to our heads, was a stubbornness to keep positive - with some divine help of course."

Paul and Rachel Chambers were on a round-the-world trip in their 38ft yacht when they were captured, separated and held hostage on land.

A spokeswoman for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are monitoring the situation very closely and are doing everything we can to secure their release.

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