Somali pirates holding a Turkish bulk carrier for nearly two months have demanded $20 million for the release of the vessel and its 23-man Turkish crew, a company lawyer said on Monday.
"The ransom they asked for is $20 million, but negotiations on kidnappings such as these usually end with agreement on 10 to 20 per cent of the amount asked," Nilgun Yamaner, who represents the owner of the ship, told AFP.
"In our case, that amounts to a figure between $2 to 4 million," she added.
Yamaner said she believed they were close to a deal with the pirates, but refused to say the figure her client, the Istanbul-based Horizon Shipping, was negotiating for the ship.
The bulk carrier Horizon 1 was seized on July 8 as it was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Jordan with 33,000 cubic metres of sulphide.
Pirates directed the ship to the port of Eyl in northern Somalia's breakaway Puntland region, where it has been anchored since.
The crew were in good condition and had regular telephone contact with their families, Yamaner said.
The world's naval powers have deployed dozens of warships to the lawless waters off Somalia over the past year to curb attacks by pirates threatening one of the world's busiest maritime trade routes.