Is Seychelles turning a blind eye to pirates?
The overwhelming public impression of the Seychelles is of idyllic tropical islands, untouched by the troubles of a turbulent region, and highly popular with upmarket Western tourists.
But the islands have also become popular with pirates displaced from waters further north in the Gulf of Aden by a 40-strong international naval flotilla.
Rising concern over the presence of these pirates led the European Union to invest €1m (£900,000) to bolster the country's legal infrastructure; the US deployed "drone" spotter planes in the islands; and French and Russian warships patrolled the area.
However, security companies have reported that the government of the Seychelles has done deals with the pirates which would allow them to operate as long as they do not affect the interests of the Seychelles.
One example of this, it is claimed, was the government's release of 11 Somalis arrested after the attempted hijacking of two French tuna trawlers. The men were captured by the Seychellois coastguard vessel, Topaze, following information from a spotter plane of the EU's anti-piracy task force Atalanta, earlier this month, but then swiftly released.
The government of Puntland, a breakaway region of Somalia, complained when two Seychellois light aircraft landed on its territory and freed 23 Somali pirates. The plane and the crew were released after paying a fine.
The Seychellois government denies any deal with the pirates. But Iderat Maritime, a leading shipping security company which lists Major-General Julian Thompson, the former commander of the Royal Marines, as one of its directors, stated that the government has probably reached an "understanding" with the pirates. Information from within Somalia appears to confirm this.
Christopher Ledger, vice-chairman of Iderat Maritime, said: "These reports have been quite persistent and need to be looked at. We are not saying that the abduction of [Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple who were kidnapped by Somali pirates last week] had anything to do with any such links."
The Seychellois government says it is taking action against the pirates and the President, James Michel, has authorised the deployment of extra troops.
Noel Morgan, a cabinet member and head of the High-Level Committee on Piracy, said: "The Seychelles Peoples' Defence Force will act as a deterrence force to any approaching pirate vessels, and our forces will complement the Seychelles and international naval forces in the region. We have 1.4 million square miles of ocean and for this reason it is a greater challenge to guarantee the security of our waters alone."
The most direct sign of Western involvement is the stationing of the 36ft MQ-9 Reaper drones, the size of jets. The aircraft are fitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting, can fly up to 16 hours and are capable of carrying a dozen guided bombs and missiles.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014: In defence of Mesut Ozil - the Arsenal midfielder works magic in the shadows
- 3 Do you know this man? Amnesia sufferer found in park pleads for help in identifying who he is
- 4 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 5 Tony Abbott embarrasses Australia by praising Japanese WWII military, ‘getting on the sake’ and posing for ‘crotch-shot’ photo opportunity
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Jennifer Lawrence face palms Emma Watson at Christian Dior show in Paris
Mick Jagger denies being World Cup curse and reason for Brazil’s embarrassing defeat
Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
Do you know this man? Amnesia sufferer found in park pleads for help in identifying who he is
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...
£70000 - £90000 per annum + Job Satisfaction: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP SD OTC Consultant | 12 Months | 500/...