President Recep Tayyib Erdogan hints that prisoner swap with Isis was behind release of Turkish hostages

Government officials have not revealed how they managed to secure the release of the captives

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The Independent Online

Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan has indicated for the first time that his country may have traded Isis prisoners in exchange for Turkish hostages.

Asked in New York, Mr Erdogan said “such things may be possible”. He cited Israel releasing 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one Israeli hostage. “So you see, it’s possible,” he added.

The hostages – 46 Turks and three Iraqis – were returned to Turkey on Saturday after more than three months in the hands of the militant group, which captured them in the Iraqi city of Mosul in June.

Turkish government officials have not revealed how they managed to secure the release of the captives. Mr Erdogan denied paying a ransom but has been vague on whether there was a prisoner swap.

Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, Mr Erdogan tried to sidestep the question.

“This process involved an operation by the national intelligence agency... it was a historic, very important process,” he said.


Mr Erdogan stressed that no payment was involved. “As to the rest, you probably cannot expect us to publicly divulge what the international agencies do in their business.”

Pressed further, he acknowledge that there may have been a prisoners swap. 

What Turkey may or may not have done to secure the release has been a subject of speculation. Many observers expressed disbelief that the ruthless militant group would have relinquished such a big bargaining chip without getting something in return.