Meet Sugule Ali. Mr. Sugule is the official spokesman for a group of pirates operating off of the coast of Somalia. Yes, the pirates have spokespeople, too. And no, I don’t mean the ones in Pittsburgh.
As the New York Times reported, when a group of Somali pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter earlier this week, they didn’t know the ship held $30 million in arms.
In a 45-minute interview, Mr. Sugule spoke on everything from what the pirates wanted (“just money”) to why they were doing this (“to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters”) to what they had to eat on board (rice, meat, bread, spaghetti, “you know, normal human-being food”).
He said that so far, in the eyes of the world, the pirates had been misunderstood. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” he said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”
Here’s the whole Q&A between the New York Times and Mr. Sugele. This week, Mr Sugule also spoke with the Associated Press, Time Magazine, The Press Association, Agence France-Presse, even Voice of America. Being a pirate spokesperson is a busy job, apparently.
As PR Week pointed out, “[by].. being an able, available, and transparent spokesman… readers find themselves feeling sympathetic toward the pirates who might be arrested for acting on their pirate instincts.”
I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I do think these stories where Mr. Sugule is interviewed demonstrate that journalists are always looking for a new angle to the stories they report. Mr. Sugule ably provided that.
Who knew that the pirate’s life included more than pillaging, plundering, rifling and looting?