The former consul general of the Turkish consulate in Mosul, Iraq, Öztürk Yılmaz, who was held hostage by the Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for 101 days along with 48 others from the mission, said on live TV that none of his 16 diplomatic cables prompted Ankara to send help before it was too late.
Yılmaz, who is now an opposition deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), connected to Habertürk TV on Sunday night to respond to claims that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the decision to evacuate the consulate under the threat of ISIL. The extremist terrorist organization took hostage 49 staff members and dependents at the Turkish Consulate General in Mosul including the then-consul general, Yılmaz, on June 11, 2014 and released them in October of the same year.
In an angry call to the TV show, responding to rumors that it was his prerogative to make decisions in the face of the ISIL threat, the former diplomat said he has been keeping his silence due to his patriotism while strongly denying that he made the decision to keep the consulate open.
¨I sent 16 urgent cables to Ankara about the threats and evacuation, but none received a response,” Yılmaz said, adding that he even asked for a helicopter and a plane to evacuate the consulate. He also said his visit to Ankara on May 25 and efforts to reach out to policy makers did not produce any results.
Yılmaz challenged anyone spreading such false arguments about him to face him in person as Mete Yarar, a former soldier, said on the same show that he heard such claims from three different sources.
The former consul general said his urgent cables are being kept in the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “If I had been killed while in captivity, they would have probably put all the blame on me,” Yılmaz stated, referring to the rumors. Yılmaz added that he was held in captivity by ISIL for 101 days but that it did not dampen his patriotism.
After their release then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu welcomed the 49 captives home with a showy ceremony in which he kissed the then-consul general on the forehead.
Just 20 hours before ISIL occupied the Turkish consulate in Mosul and took 49 people captive, Davutoğlu had written a message on Twitter saying that all precautions had been taken for the security of the diplomatic mission.
To this day none of the captives have provided any accounts of their days under captivity to the media.