Last updated: 23 May, 2011

UN and EU appeal for release of Estonians in Lebanon

The United Nations and European Union on Monday made a joint appeal for the release of seven Estonians kidnapped in Lebanon two months ago, saying their abduction served no purpose and harked back to Lebanon’s “dark” past.

“We appeal for the immediate release of the seven abducted Estonian nationals,” said a joint statement by Angelina Eichhorst, the EU ambassador to Lebanon, and Michael Williams, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon.

“These bicyclists came to Lebanon as tourists, with no ill intent,” they said. “No purpose whatsoever is served by their continued detention.”

They added that the March 23 abduction could threaten Lebanon’s standing in the international community.

The men, all in their 30s, were kidnapped shortly after entering Lebanon on a bicycle tour from neighbouring Syria.

The case remains shrouded in mystery with little information gleaned on their whereabouts or those behind the abduction.

Several people have been arrested in connection with the case but there is no clear evidence as to who ordered the kidnapping.

The seven men have appealed for help in two video tapes but their abductors have made no ransom demand.

Sources say that investigators have determined that the first video released in April was uploaded in the Syrian capital Damascus.