World Bulletin/News Desk
Two kidnapped Turkish pilots arrived in Istanbul after leaving Lebanon on Saturday.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan greeted the Turkish Airlines pilots on the tarmac as they disembarked from a Qatar Airways jet and were met with cheers from family members.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the release underscored Turkey's diplomatic clout.
"The success of this process, which has been conducted under the instructions of our prime minister, proves once again the regional importance of Turkey," Davutoglu said in a Twitter post before the pilots landed in Istanbul.
Having been released Saturday after kidnapped 71 days ago, Turkish pilots Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca told what they lived during the abductee-days aboard the private plane Qatari government has set apart for them.
One of the Turkish hostages said their captors treated them respectfully and did not use violence against them.
"We weren't treated badly, but the first 25 days were difficult. We didn't see daylight," Murat Agca told reporters.
Turkish pilot Murat Akpinar said "We knew that our government was behind us and they would not leave us there."
Akpinar said the Turkish government solved the crisis through diplomacy instead of staging operations.
"If operations were staged to save us, hundreds of people would have been killed," he said and added, "The first month of our captivity was very difficult. We were not treated badly but were locked in a room."
Akpinar stated they were "kidnapped not once but eight times for the kidnappers kept changing their locations."
"We were kidnapped within 3-5 minutes during the transfer from the airport to the hotel. Some vehicles appeared in front of our service bus. Nearly 10 armed people got out of three cars. When I looked back I saw three more cars there. Someone pointed a gun to the driver. Someone kicked in to the door of the car. I shouted 'do not shoot' in English," Akpinar told.
Akpinar thanked Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for their special efforts, saying, "We know that our president hosted our families and listened to them. Each Turkish citizen knows he's not alone there if something happens to him."
He noted afterwards, a colossal person entrucked the vehicle and told Akpinar to go with him.
Akpinar stated he also saw the copilot Murat Agca being sticked out from the vehicle, saying the kidnappers held two guns from right and left to his head and told him that they won't kill him.
Saying they changed the places of them in every three-four days, Akpinar noted each transfer took place between 2.00-4.00 a.m. via cars.
"When we asked them why they kidnapped us, they told us that their families were kidnapped. First days were a bit constrained, we even went to the toilettes under the control of weapons, however we did not face any violence. We followed the news through 'Turkey's Voice Radio'. We are happy to be released, "Akpinar added.
Having begun to work in Turkish Airlines (THY) just six months ago, co-pilot Murat Agca stated they supported each other with Akpinar, whom he met in the plane for the first time before being kidnapped.
"We relied on our government. Except it, we had nothing. The kidnappers told us some stuff there. When we looked at each others face, we understood what we had to say and how we should treat," Agca said.
Co-pilot Murat Agca also expressed pleasure for seeing his family again.
"I hope no one goes through the sorrow we experienced. We thanked our prime minister for dealing with the issue so closely," Agca said.
He said he missed his son and daughter very much.
Released Turkish pilots arrived Saturday night in Istanbul, where they were welcomed by Erdogan and their families.
Pilots were carried to the administrative building of THY for an hour and left the building to arrive their homes.
Turkish pilots Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca were kidnapped in Beirut by gunmen who intercepted their bus on August 9. Six Turkish Airlines crew were on board, but only the pilot and co-pilot were held hostage for 71 days.
A group named "Visitors of Imam Reza" claimed responsibility for the abduction of the two Turkish pilots, and made a statement that they would release the Turkish pilots in exchange of nine Lebanese nationals held as hostages in Syria.
Last Mod: 20 Ekim 2013, 11:01