World

Foreign minister denies reports Italy paid $12 million ransom for release of 2 from Syria

  • Italian aid workers, 21-year-old Greta Ramelli, left, and 20-year-old Vanessa Marzullo, arrive at Ciampino's military airport, near Rome, early Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. The women, from the northern Lombardy region, disappeared in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo in late July or early August. It wasn't clear at the time who had taken them. They appeared in a video released earlier this month, asking the Italian government to help bring them home, with Ramelli saying they could be killed. Marzullo held a piece of paper with the date Dec. 17, 2014, written on it. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

    Italian aid workers, 21-year-old Greta Ramelli, left, and 20-year-old Vanessa Marzullo, arrive at Ciampino's military airport, near Rome, early Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. The women, from the northern Lombardy region, disappeared in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo in late July or early August. It wasn't clear at the time who had taken them. They appeared in a video released earlier this month, asking the Italian government to help bring them home, with Ramelli saying they could be killed. Marzullo held a piece of paper with the date Dec. 17, 2014, written on it. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)  (The Associated Press)

  • Italian aid workers, 21-year-old Greta Ramelli, center, and 20-year-old Vanessa Marzullo, right, are welcomed by Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni as they arrive at Ciampino's military airport, near Rome, early Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. The women, from the northern Lombardy region, disappeared in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo in late July or early August. It wasn't clear at the time who had taken them. They appeared in a video released earlier this month, asking the Italian government to help bring them home, with Ramelli saying they could be killed. Marzullo held a piece of paper with the date Dec. 17, 2014, written on it. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

    Italian aid workers, 21-year-old Greta Ramelli, center, and 20-year-old Vanessa Marzullo, right, are welcomed by Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni as they arrive at Ciampino's military airport, near Rome, early Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. The women, from the northern Lombardy region, disappeared in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo in late July or early August. It wasn't clear at the time who had taken them. They appeared in a video released earlier this month, asking the Italian government to help bring them home, with Ramelli saying they could be killed. Marzullo held a piece of paper with the date Dec. 17, 2014, written on it. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)  (The Associated Press)

  • Italian aid workers, 21-year-old Greta Ramelli, second from left, and 20-year-old Vanessa Marzullo, second from right, are welcomed by Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, left, and adviser Claudio Taffuri as they arrive at Ciampino's military airport, near Rome, early Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. The women, from the northern Lombardy region, disappeared in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo in late July or early August. It wasn't clear at the time who had taken them. They appeared in a video released earlier this month, asking the Italian government to help bring them home, with Ramelli saying they could be killed. Marzullo held a piece of paper with the date Dec. 17, 2014, written on it. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

    Italian aid workers, 21-year-old Greta Ramelli, second from left, and 20-year-old Vanessa Marzullo, second from right, are welcomed by Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, left, and adviser Claudio Taffuri as they arrive at Ciampino's military airport, near Rome, early Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. The women, from the northern Lombardy region, disappeared in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo in late July or early August. It wasn't clear at the time who had taken them. They appeared in a video released earlier this month, asking the Italian government to help bring them home, with Ramelli saying they could be killed. Marzullo held a piece of paper with the date Dec. 17, 2014, written on it. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)  (The Associated Press)

Italy's foreign minister has denied reports that Italy paid $12 million in ransom to free two young aid workers held for five months in Syria.

Hours after 21-year-old Greta Ramelli and 20-year-old Vanessa Marzullo landed in Rome Friday, Paolo Gentiloni told lawmakers that the reports "were void of any basis in reality and in some cases spread by terrorists."

The Dubai-based broadcaster Al Aan reported that Italy paid $12 million, sparking debate in Italy about ransom payments and drawing harsh words from opposition politicians.

Gentiloni told the lower house that Italy is "against payment of ransom" and follows "the rules and behaviors" shared by the international community.

The women were kidnapped overnight July 31, on their third visit to the country.