WASHINGTON - The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Thursday it has been called in by the U.S. Navy to assist with the hostage negotiations with Somali pirates holding an American ship captain.

An spokesman for the federal law enforcement agency said in a brief statement that FBI negotiators are fully engaged in this matter.

The captain of a U.S.-flagged, Danish-owned freighter has been taken hostage by the pirates in the first seizure of U.S. citizens by the increasingly bold sea gangs.