Surely the kidnappers could not be happier. Normally one of the biggest challenges in hostage negotiations is to bring the ransom claim down. In this already relatively old case, direct contact with the kidnappers remains to be established, so we may never know the effect of Dagbladet’s article, but obviously it can only be negative.
The case also illustrates another tricky aspect. What should the police conceal or state publicly?
In this case, the police has stated that they advice the family not to pay ransom. Such statements are dangerous. If the kidnappers get the impression that no ransom will be paid, that could jeopardise the victim’s life. Governments sometimes state as a matter of principle that no ransom will be paid, since that may encourage kidnappers to abduct other victims. While such an attitude is defendable, the statement may lead to the victim’s early death. There is no reason to comment on an actual kidnapping this way. Sometimes negotiations are successful even if no ransom is paid, and it is important to give the negotiators the chance to do their job. It is therefore surprising that the Norwegian Police make such a statement.
According to another leading paper, Verdens Gang, the family has stated, also publicly, that they will follow the advice of the Police not to pay ransom. When asked if the family later on might consider paying ransom, the family's lawyer says he is unable to answer. The heading itself, insisting that ransom will not be paid, might be enough to spur a snap reaction from tense kidnappers, by some assumed to be foreigners. At the same time the poor family is pleading for a sign of life from the victim. One can imagine how attractive it is for the kidnappers to heed this plea, possibly giving the Police clues for the investigation, when there is nothing to be gained.