Two Israeli pilots detained in Eritrea released

August 24th, 2011 - 3:08 am ICT by BNO News  

JERUSALEM (BNO NEWS) — Two Israeli pilots detained in Eritrea for a month on suspicion of arms smuggling returned to Israel on Tuesday, local daily Haaretz newspaper reported.

Yehuda Maoz and Vered Aharonson, who worked for an Israeli company called Gesher Aviri, flew to Eritrea to deliver spare parts and were arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle in spare parts of weapons, according to Foreign Ministry sources. The two pilots were held in a hotel in the capital Asmara for a month, while Eritrean security forces did not allow the Israeli ambassador to visit them.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry suspected that the extended period of detention would lead to an indictment, and that the pilots would be jailed in Eritrea, according to the newspaper.

Heavy diplomatic pressure on Ertirea by Israel’s ambassador in recent weeks facilitated the release of the pilots. Israel told Eritrean authorities that the pilots had been negligent in filling out customs forms, but that they had not intended to smuggle weapons parts into the country.

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