Turkish reporters home after Syrian detention
Two journalists held captive for two months arrive back in Turkey after Iran acted as an intermediary in their release.
Last Modified: 13 May 2012 22:22
Ozkose, pictured, said he and Coskun were "blindfolded and handcuffed" by militiamen and taken "to a cellar" [AFP]

Two Turkish journalists who were detained in Syria for two months have arrived back in Turkey after Iran acted as an intermediary in their release.

Reporter Adem Ozkose and cameraman Hamit Coskun were on a plane from Tehran that landed early on Sunday in Istanbul, where they were greeted by friends, relatives and Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay.

The pair were reported missing in early March after travelling to the northern province of Idlib to work on a documentary about the Syrian crackdown on unrest, and were not heard from until last weekend when they made brief telephone calls to their families from detention in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

'Blindfolded and handcuffed'

The two men said they felt most at risk in the early stage of their captivity, when pro-government militiamen put guns to their heads and threatened them.

"Thank God we were saved but there are many others inside Syria waiting for freedom"

- Hamit Coskun

Ozkose, a reporter for Milat, a Turkish newspaper, said he and Coskun were abducted by militiamen who had blocked a road and were stopping cars and abducting passengers.

"They would fire upon those who didn't stop. They stopped our car,'' Ozkose said at a news conference. "Then they blindfolded and handcuffed us and took us to a cellar.''

He said he and Coskun were later held separately at a prison in Damascus, where they slept on a concrete floor.

Turkey has strained ties with Syria, which is trying to crush an anti-government uprising. Turkish officials had asked Iran, a staunch supporter of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, to help in efforts to release the journalists.

The Turkish aid group Humanitarian Relief Foundation, known as IHH, said it was involved in "humanitarian diplomacy" with both Syrian and Iranian officials to mediate their release. The pair was first flown from Syria to Iran on Saturday before switching to a plane dispatched by the Turkish government to collect them.

"We were in a cell without sunlight. We woke up to the same thing every day. Nothing ever changed. I didn't know what day it was when we landed in Tehran,'' Coskun said.

"Finding out what day it was made me happy. It made me appreciate freedom. Thank God we were saved but there are many others inside Syria waiting for freedom,'' he said.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list