Cyprus Mail

A story of betrayal: kidnapped Marie’s family speaks out

Marie-Eleni was abducted by her father in April 2017


The Norwegian man who abducted his four-year-old daughter last month never legally requested contact with her in custody disputes but has always been bent on taking her illegally, the mother’s family said on Wednesday.

The events that led to the abduction on April 27 of Marie Eleni Grimsrud, four, by her father, Torkel Grimsrud, 49, outside her kindergarten tell a story the family calls a betrayal in that on the outside a seemingly good relationship between an estranged couple for the sake of their child was a lie.

The family of Marie’s mother, Eleni Ioannou, 48, now want the facts known.  Ioannou had met Grimsrud in Cyprus and following a mostly-long-distance relationship, they got married in 2012. Marie was born on April 30, 2013.

But before celebrating her fourth birthday, she was abducted outside her kindergarten in Dasoupolis in Nicosia and is nowhere to be found, with a man whom she hadn’t seen for more than a year.

Marie was born in Norway on the insistence of her father, who felt that she would be entitled to more benefits that way. Two months after, Ioannou returned to Cyprus with her baby, and has been living on the island since. Marie speaks Greek and a bit of English but no Norwegian.

Torkel Grimsrud
Torkel Grimsrud

Her father travelled to Cyprus five to six times a year to visit. Marie and her mother would also travel to Norway three to four times a year.

According to the family, Grimsrud had been telling everyone he would go on early retirement so that he could move permanently to Cyprus and be with his family, as per the couple’s agreement before getting married.

But everything was turned upside down when Grimsrud, withheld Ioannou’s and his daughter’s passports forbidding them to leave the country when they last visited him on October 2015 for four days, at his request, in order to celebrate his birthday and visit a theme park.

The move caught Ioannou off guard as nothing until that moment led to her think that Grimsrud was not happy with their arrangement.

It was only after the intervention of Ioannou’s family and friends that contacted Cypriot authorities who issued an order for the immediate return of Marie and her mother to Cyprus, that they managed to return home via Sweden, 15 days later by using their identity cards.

The father then reported that his daughter had been kidnapped by Ioannou, but the claim was dismissed by authorities.

Since that incident, Marie remained in Cyprus and communicated with her father through Skype. The Cypriot court ruled that she should live in Cyprus with her mother. It also issued an order stipulating that she could travel outside the country only with the mother’s consent.

The father, according to the family, did not file for access but for custody in Norway. It was rejected as were four appeals.

The last one was two months before the abduction. In the meantime, on February 2016, police in Cyprus foiled a first attempt to snatch Marie. Her father had no contact with her after that until the abduction.

Ioannou’s lawyer Larry Vrahimis said last week that police were close to locating Grimsrud and Marie. He is said to be still in the government controlled areas.

Ioannou’s family is making another plea. Anyone with information should contact local police (1460) or Interpol, or even write to them at [email protected]

A Facebook support group has also been set up – HELP US BRING HER HOME – that has more than 9,000 followers.



A march for Marie-Eleni

A support group for Marie-Eleni’s return are organising a march on Thursday to mark the Missing Children’s Day.

Participants wearing white T-shirts and holding green balloons, will set off at 6pm from the Road Safety Park in Antistratigou Evaggelou Floraki Street in Aglandjia and march to police headquarters. The event is open to everyone.




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