Part of the ransom money alleged to have been paid by the German government to win the freedom of Iraq hostage Susanne Osthoff last month was found on Osthoff after her release, the German magazine Focus said on Saturday.
Without citing its sources, Focus said officials at the German embassy in Baghdad had found several thousand U.S. dollars in the 43-year-old German archaeologist’s clothes when she took a shower at the embassy shortly after being freed.
The serial numbers on the bills matched those used by the government to pay off Osthoff’s kidnappers, the magazine said.
Efforts to contact Osthoff for comment through her mother and a friend failed.
A spokeswoman at the German Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report. The German government is known to have paid ransoms for hostages in the past, but has refused to comment on whether it did so for Osthoff.
Osthoff, who converted to Islam and lived in Iraq, was seized heading north from Baghdad on November 25 by gunmen who threatened in a videotape to kill her and her driver unless Germany ended all support for the Iraqi government.
Speculation about the circumstances of her kidnapping and release has swirled in the German media since the German government announced on December 18 that she was free.
Two days after her release, the German government freed a Hizbollah member jailed for life in 1985 for the murder of a U.S. Navy diver. Berlin has denied a connection between the two events.
Osthoff herself caused a stir when she said in an interview at the end of December that she did not believe her kidnappers were criminals.