Sunday 26 January 2020

British model's kidnapper urged her to 'sneak' information into the press for good publicity

Reports have emerged that the suspect in her kidnapping also tried to sell the story to a tabloid newspaper

Chloe Ayling (right) claims she was held by Lukasz Pawel Herba (left top) at a rural house
Chloe Ayling (right) claims she was held by Lukasz Pawel Herba (left top) at a rural house

Andrew Griffin

Chloe Ayling, the 20-year-old glamour model who says she was kidnapped by an international criminal gang from the dark web, was told by her captors to “sneak” information into the press.

The “Black Death” group, who police say kidnapped the model before returning her to the British consulate, gave Ms Ayling a specific series of things to say in media interviews, according to the police. The group said they would be watching her appearances and that they would “eliminate” her if she disobeyed them, according to a pamphlet that was released by the police.

The letter, written in English, lays out a series of demands that were allegedly made of Ms Ayling when she was released. It said that her release “does, however, come with a warning, and you should read this letter very carefully”.

It suggests that despite the fact that police have said Ms Ayling’s captors returned her within days of drugging and taking her, the kidnapping was still intended to be used as a kind of publicity event for the “Black Death” group. Very little has so far been known about the group, which, if it has previously existed at all, has looked to downplay its online presence.

British model Chloe Ayling (20), who was kidnapped and held for a week by men who threatened to auction her online.
British model Chloe Ayling (20), who was kidnapped and held for a week by men who threatened to auction her online.

Police have said that the group had originally intended to sell Ms Ayling online through the dark web.

“You will, upon your landing in your home country, cease any investigation activities related to your kidnapping,” it reads. Ms Ayling has received a debriefing from authorities since she arrived in the UK at the weekend, but it’s thought that it is related to intelligence questions about the gang rather than the criminal investigations.

The letter then goes on to make clear that what Ms Ayling says in the wake of the kidnapping will be monitored. It says that she “agreed to sneak a pre-determined set of information into the media, and we will expect to see evidence that has been done in near future”.

Ms Ayling has so far only given one media interview, to an Italian TV station, outside her house. In that, she read a short statement and suggested that she would say more when the debriefing process was over.

Suspect Lukasz Pawel Herba
Suspect Lukasz Pawel Herba

The pamphlet says that any further interviews about the Black Death group must never be done “in bad language and without respect”. It said that she might have heard information from her captor, but that she can release that because he “would never give you any information that could harm our activities”.

It also says that since Ms Ayling was treated well, she should tell the media about how good the group are. “You have been treated fairly, with respect and we expect to hear exactly the same about us in return”.

“We will not tolerate lying about anything that happened,” the letter reads.

The authenticity of the Black Death Group or that they were the authors of the letter cannot be verified. But the police provided the pamphlet as part of their major press conference announcing they had captured one of the men they claim is responsible for the kidnapping.

Chloe Ayling. Picture: Instagram
Chloe Ayling. Picture: Instagram

The document was taken from his computer, they said. It also included another page that listed the services the group can supposedly provide – including bombings and assassinations – and a disturbing image of plague doctors, which happens to be one of the first images that shows up in a Google search for “black death”.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph is reporting that the accused kidnapper, Lukasz Pawel Herba, contacted the Daily Mirror and tried to sell the story of the kidnapping while the young girl was still being held captive.

He emailed the paper  under the heading ‘British model kidnapped by Russian mafia’ and offered to sell photographs of her.

On Monday, her agent from Supermodels Agency, said she was taken to the British Consulate in Milan after the "horrific ordeal", but could not return home to London for almost three weeks.

"Chloe had her passport detained by Italian police who would not let her return to the UK until she gave evidence at a pre-trial hearing on August 4," he said in a statement.

He added she was able to fly back to the UK on Sunday after attending the crime scene with police and her lawyer the day before.

"Today she is debriefing Met Police and the Foreign Office, and has requested to spend the rest of the day in privacy with her mother," he added.

In her only public statement since her ordeal she said: "I've been through a terrifying experience. I feared for my life, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.

"I am incredibly grateful to the Italian and UK authorities for all they have done to secure my safe release."

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