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Negotiator Accused Of Piracy Involvement

NORFOLK, Va., Aug. 19 (UPI) — Mohammad Saaili Shibin has been indicted on piracy charges for allegedly negotiating the ransom of four U.S. citizens held hostage by Somali pirates.

Shibin, 50, was indicted Thursday in Norfolk, Va., on 15 counts for allegedly acting as a ransom negotiator for pirates who took over the M/V Marida Marguerite, the U.S. Justice Department said in a release.

The German-owned vessel held 22 hostages. Shibin allegedly received between $30,000 and $50,000 for securing the release of each of the hostages.

“Mr. Shibin is alleged to be among the select few who are entrusted with one of the most important tasks in Somali piracy – ensuring a ship’s owners pay the maximum amount of ransom possible for the release of a hijacked vessel,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “The ransom paid for the Marida Marguerite capped a year where authorities estimate pirates received more than $100 million in ransom payments. The role he’s accused of fulfilling for pirates on the Marida Marguerite is the same role he allegedly intended to fill for the Quest. This case is aimed at the heart of the piracy business, striking at the small group of men who make receiving millions from piracy a reality.”

Shibin faces two counts of piracy, two counts of conspiracy to commit hostage taking, two counts of hostage taking, two counts of conspiracy to commit violence, two counts of violence against maritime navigation, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping, and three counts of using a firearm during a violent crime.

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