Israeli authorities have scrapped a search for a man allegedly kidnapped in Ethiopia after determining the incident was a hoax.
The Foreign Ministry now believes that Francis Adbabayi, 79, from Rishon Lezion, who traveled to his native country of Ethiopia a few weeks ago, faked his own abduction in order to keep the ransom.
Adbabayi’s relatives said last week that his alleged abductors had sent them a recorded message, pictures and a short video clip of him bound at the hands and feet and guarded by an armed man.
The kidnappers were demanding 2.5 million Ethiopian birr, about 164,000 shekels ($45,000), for his release.
“Help me. I’m in the middle of the jungle. It’s raining hard. Help me… This trouble I wouldn’t wish upon my enemies,” Adbabayi reportedly said in the recording.
Israeli officials were working with Interpol on the matter.
Authorities reportedly dropped the case after discovering that Adebabayi had answered incoming phone calls from Israeli numbers.
His relative disputed the findings and insisted that Adebabayi remains a captive.