Turkish sailors freed after 3-month captivity in Eritrea

Turkish sailors freed after 3-month captivity in Eritrea

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Three Turkish sailors on a world tour detained in the East African country of Eritrea were freed on June 20 as a result of Ankara’s intervention.

Selim Ekmekçioğlu, Ibrahim Ignak and Erman Lütfü Atamer regained their freedom under the instruction of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the intervention of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, according to diplomatic sources.

Şeyda Ekmekçioğlu told Anadolu Agency that her husband called her to say they had been freed.

“I spoke to my husband for the first time today since April 25. He sounded fine. He said their condition was very good and that they were treated very well in Eritrea,” she said.

She also thanked officials for their efforts to free her husband.

Selim Ekmekçioğlu set off on a world tour in September 2017. Ignak and Atamer joined him in March.

After arriving the Djibouti which neighbors Eritrea from the southeast, the sailors received supplies and fuel with the assistance of Ambassador Levent Şahinkaya.

As the Suez Canal was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sailors decided to turn back and land in Eritrea, only to be held by security forces, Şeyda Ekmekçioğlu recounted.

Selim Ekmekçioğlu reached his wife via satellite phone, who then contacted Turkey’s Embassy in Eritrea.

The sailors are expected to arrive in Djibouti in three to four days.

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