Turkish reporters return home after deadly Israeli attack

Two reporters of the Anadolu Agency returned to Turkey on Thursday after they were detained in Israel together with over 600 people who were on ships carrying aid to Gaza.

Turkish reporters return home after deadly Israeli attack


Two reporters of the Anadolu Agency (AA) returned to Turkey on Thursday after they were detained in Israel together with over 600 people who were on ships carrying aid to Gaza.

AA reporter Yucel Velioglu and Erhan Sevenler were the passengers of the "Mavi Marmara" ship bound to Gaza with humanitarian aid and volunteers.

"Almost 20 zodiac boats, four boats, two submarines and helicopters waylaid the 'Mavi Marmara' ship from the sea and air at 4:14 a.m. on May 31 when we were sailing in international waters," Velioglu said.

Velioglu said Israeli soldiers got on the ship, and a row occurred between the Israeli soldiers and crew and passengers on the ship, and Israeli soldiers opened fire on people, killing and injuring them.

"We ran away and tried to communicate our friends via radio during the row, and almost 10 Turkish journalists went to the press center on the ship," he said.

Velioglu said the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) executives called on people on the ship not to resist as there were many injured, and commandos came to the press center, pointed guns at them, and detained them.

The ships then started to set sail at 9 a.m. with helicopters flying over them, he said.

Velioglu said soldiers gave them water from time to time, and those who had to use the bathroom had handcuffs on them when they returned.

The ship arrived at the Ashdod port at around 6 p.m., and the first group got out of the ship at around 7-8 p.m. on Monday, he said.

Velioglu said Israeli soldiers handcuffed every one, took their photographs and interrogated them.

"Our fingerprints were taken, and we were body searched," he said.

Velioglu said they signed papers which wrote that they entered Israel illegally and wanted to leave the country as soon as possible.

"Then we were taken to prison vehicles and it took one and a half hours to get to the prison, we were placed in two-people and four-people cells," he said.

Velioglu said Israeli executives interrogated everybody one by one, distributed them clothes and put them in wards.

"They woke us up all the time to disturb us, and they started to free people as of 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday as they completed procedures," he said.

Velioglu said he was out of the prison at 4 a.m., went to the airport, and returned to Turkey after waiting in the plane for almost 14 hours.

Soldiers took our belongings and cameras.

Also, photo reporter Erhan Sevenler said reporters gathered at the back of the ship when they learned that frigates and submarines were approaching, and they tried to record the developments.

"Commandos started to jump on the ship from a helicopter, and I ran there to record it," he said.

Sevenler said he heard Israeli soldiers using real bullets and he got back when he understood that they were real bullets, not resonance bombs or plastic bullets.

"We then went to the press center," Sevenler also said.

Sevenler said journalists tried to stay together during all those days, but they were separated at the prison and on the planes.

"I am happy to be back in Turkey, and I cannot believe that this is over," he also said.

Three Turkish Airlines (THY) planes, carrying activists who were detained in a recent Israeli raid against Gaza-bound aid ships, landed in Istanbul early on Thursday.

The planes, carrying 466 activists as well as bodies of 9 people that were killed in the attack, landed at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport at short intervals.

Turkish State Minister & Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc and a number of officials welcomed the THY planes which also brought back four Justice and Development (AK) Party deputies who went to Israel to help the volunteers.

On Monday, an Israeli raid on the convoy of ships with more than 600 people on board killed 9 people and injured nearly 30 others.

AA


 

Last Mod: 03 Haziran 2010, 13:53
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