Turkish man held in Lebanon released
Newly released Aydın Tufan Tekin speaks on the phone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan upon his release and arrival at the Lebanese General Security in Beirut, on Tuesday. (Photo: Reuters)
A Turkish businessman abducted by a Lebanese Shiite clan last month was released after negotiations between Lebanese authorities and clan members.
Tekin was kidnapped along with about 20 Syrians in retaliation for the kidnapping of clan member Hassan al-Meqdad -- allegedly by the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Damascus.
In a statement, the Lebanese army said on Tuesday that it “freed four kidnapped Syrians after raiding a location in Hay al-Sellum following surveillance and follow-ups,” but there was no word on the fate of Tekin. Quoting anonymous Lebanese military officials, Turkey's Anatolia news agency said Lebanese authorities negotiated with members of the Meqdad clan and the clan agreed to free Tekin.
Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and Turkey's Beirut ambassador welcomed Tekin after his release. Anatolia reported that Tekin's first words after the release were that he was very happy that he would get to see his family.
The Meqdad clan has said it holds Turkey responsible for the abduction of Hassan al-Meqdad because Turkey is the main sponsor of the FSA.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese media also reported that another Turk kidnapped in Lebanon has been released. Reports quoted a group called "al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi Brigades" as saying that it had freed the Turkish truck driver, Abdülbasit Arslan, and 10 Syrians that it abducted last month.
There was no official confirmation of the reports.
The armed group kidnapped Arslan and the Syrians to seek the release of 11 Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped on May 22 in Syria shortly after crossing the border from Turkey.
In remarks to the media on Monday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Turkey was playing an important role in efforts to secure the release of the Lebanese pilgrims. “I hope that the Lebanese hostages will be gradually released very soon,” he was quoted as saying by Anatolia.