Judith Tebbutt, the British woman kidnapped in Kenya, has been freed in Somalia six months after she was seized and her husband David killed.
Judith Tebbutt, 56, from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, was flown to Nairobi after her family paid the pirates a ransom for her release.
The woman said she was “very relieved” and looking forward to seeing her “fantastic” son Oliver.
Judith Tebbutt’s husband David, 58, was shot by a gang of six men at their remote holiday resort in Kiwayu, north of Lamu island, in Kenya.
Social worker Judith Tebbutt, who is believed to be deaf and was wearing a double hearing aid, said: “I’m very relieved to have been released. Seven months is a long time. Under the circumstances, with my husband passing away, it made it harder.
“I’m just happy to be released and I’m looking forward to seeing my son who successfully secured my release. I don’t know how he did it, but he did, which is great.”
Judith Tebbutt said she was still coming to terms with her husband’s death, which she only found out through contact with her son about two weeks after she was kidnapped.
“I feel extremely sad. Very, very sad indeed. He was a good man. That was very unfortunate. Really horrible. But you’ve just got to pick up the pieces…. and move on,” she said.
Judith Tebbutt landed in Nairobi on Wednesday where she will be looked after by officials from the British embassy before being flown back to the UK to be reunited with friends and relatives.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman confirmed the release and said the government would provide consular care in Nairobi.
He said it did not pay ransoms and did not “facilitate concessions to hostage takers”, but had met the family regularly to discuss the case.
It is understood Judith Tebbutt’s son Oliver is in the Kenyan city to greet her.
Judith Tebbutt was seized on 11 September last year from Kiwayu Safari Village, a luxury resort on a deserted stretch of Kenyan coastline, comprised of thatched cottages on the beach.
David and Judith Tebbutt had arrived only the previous day and were the only guests.
Judith Tebbutt was taken away in a speedboat by Somali pirates, after her husband had been killed.
It appears that a private security company had secured her release, not British officials.
It was unclear how much money was involved, and revealing the amount was generally discouraged to avoid copy-cat gangs.
Paying the ransom was not illegal because it was not known to be going to a terrorist organization, he added.
The ransom had been paid in the last three days.
Rick Blears of Save Our Seafarers, the global anti-Somali piracy campaign, said that “any move at government level to ban the payment of ransoms to pirates, as US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton proposes, would have a massively detrimental effect and put the lives of hostages at grave risk”.
Police in Kenya said six gunmen had burst into the Tebbutts’ room last September and officers speculated that David Tebbutt may have tried to resist the gang.
David Tebbutt worked for publisher Faber & Faber and sat on the board of the Book Trade Charity, which supports those in the book trade.
The Kenyan government said at the time of the kidnap that it believed the al-Shabab Islamist group, which has since merged with al-Qaeda, was behind the murder and kidnap. The group denied the allegation.
In October 2011, Kenya sent troops into its neighbor in pursuit of the militants and in support of the weak interim Somali government, which controls only the capital, Mogadishu, and a few other areas.
Rachel Chandler, who was held with her husband Paul for 13 months by pirates in Somalia, said: “My feeling is one of relief and happiness for Judith Tebbutt and her family, that finally she is free.
“I hope she will have an opportunity to pick up the pieces of her life, and deal with the loss she has had.”
EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton said she was delighted Judith Tebbutt was finally free and would work hard to fight the “scourge” of piracy and kidnapping in the horn of Africa.
Last year, two men appeared in court in connection with the attack, with both denying the charges.
One of them, Ali Babitu Kololo, told the court he had been forced at gunpoint to lead a group of men to the hotel and had not been a willing accomplice.