Ab­ducted model feared for her life ‘sec­ond by sec­ond’

Po­lice: Chloe Ayling was to be auc­tioned on ‘deep dark web.’

Austin American-Statesman - - VIEWPOINTS - By William Booth Wash­ing­ton Post

A Bri­tish model who po­lice say was kid­napped in Italy to be auc­tioned on­line through the “deep dark web” told re­porters out­side her home Mon­day that she was lucky to be alive and praised au­thor- ities for sav­ing her.

Chloe Ayling was ab­ducted July 11 by at least two men af­ter she was lured from Lon­don to a phony photo shoot at an aban­doned store­front in Mi­lan, ac­cord­ing to Ital- ian po­lice.

Dur­ing her cap­tiv­ity, she was drugged, gagged, bound, stuffed into a duf­fel bag and driven in the trunk of car to a re­mote farm­house out­side Turin, where she slept tied hand and foot to fur­ni­ture, po­lice say.

While she was be­ing held, her ab­duc­tors were al­legedly pre­par­ing her for “auc­tion” on the dark Web, a cor­ner of the in­ter­net where user iden­ti­ties are masked — by en­cryp­tion and sub­terfuge — to buy and sell il­licit goods.

Her kid­nap­pers, re­port­edly mem­bers of a cy­ber- crime crew call­ing it­self “Black Death Group,” sought to sell her via the in­ter­net as a sex slave for $300,000, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

Ayling was freed by her ab­duc­tors on July 17 af­ter be­ing dropped off at the Brit- ish con­sulate in Mi­lan.

“I’ve been through a ter­ri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I’ve feared for my life, sec­ond by sec­ond, minute by minute, hour by hour,” she told re­porters, ac­cord­ing to the Inde- pen­dent.

“I’m in­cred­i­bly grate­ful to the Ital­ian and U.K. au­thor- ities for all they have done to se­cure my safe re­lease,” Ayling said.

The 20-year-old, who was rep­re­sented by a Bri­tish mod­el­ing agency and whose Ins- tagram ac­count fea­tured her pos­ing in swim­suits and lin­gerie, de­scribed her ab­duc­tion to Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties.

In a state­ment to po­lice, pub­lished by the Ital­ian news­pa­per Cor­riere della Sera, Ayling said: “A per­son wear­ing black gloves came up from be­hind and put one hand on my neck and the other on my mouth, while a sec­ond per­son, wear­ing a black bala­clava, in­jected me in my right arm.”

“I think I lost con­scious­ness. When I woke up I was wear­ing a pink body­suit and the socks I’m in now. I re­al­ized I was in the boot of a car, with my wrists and an­kles tied and my mouth taped. I was in­side a bag, with only a small hole that al­lowed me to breathe.”

Shortly af­ter Ayling was freed, Ital­ian po­lice ar­rested a 30-year-old Pol­ish na­tional who lives part-time in Eng­land. Lukasz Pawel Herba was charged with kid­nap­ping, said Lorenzo Bu­cossi, the head of the Mi­lan Po­lice Mo­bile Com­mand unit.

Ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties, cited by Bri­tish and Ital­ian re­porters, Ayling was freed af­ter her kid­nap­pers learned that she was the mother of a 2-year-old boy.

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