Trkish businessperson freed after 10 years in Syrian prison

A Turkish businessman was arrested in 2011 after traveling to Syria for business purposes, and was released after 10 years when he was found not guilty.

Vakkas Orhan, freed from Syrian prison after a decade, met his family in Ankara with a bursting of emotions.

Orhan, who owns a company operating in the heating sector in Turkey’s southeastern Adiyaman province, went to Syria in 2011 for business.

With the emergence of civil war in Syria, Orhan was among the many Turkish citizens that were arrested under the instructions of Bashar al-Assad.

Citing his photo taken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at an inauguration ceremony in Adiyaman as a reason for his arrest, Orhan got locked up at a prison in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

He was placed in a solitary cell for a while and finally gained his freedom after 10 years when it was noticed that he was not guilty.

Handed to the Turkish authorities in the southern Hatay province on May 18, Orhan reunited with his family living at the Turkish capital Ankara’s Yenimahalle district on Wednesday.

He was welcomed at the doorstep of his home by his wife Ayse, his daughter Fadime, his son Haci, and his grandchildren, as well as his nephew.

Unable to hold back their emotions, Orhan and his family burst into tears once reunited.

Anadolu Agency was there to capture the unforgettable moment of Orhan and his family.

Telling his times of imprisonment to Anadolu Agency, Orhan said: “I am in full of joy over reuniting with my relatives, children, and my freedom. … For exactly 10 years, I prayed to God to give me my freedom, my country, my family.”

He said he was treated poorly in Syria and was left to hunger.

“I was 80 kilograms (176 pounds) before I left for Syria. But in prison, I dropped to 35 kg (77 pounds). Praise be to Allah, I am extremely well at the moment, very happy,” he said.

Orhan said he had visited many countries but had never seen a state as benevolent as the Republic of Turkey. He also added that the country had changed since the time he left.

– Arrested after being reported as friend of Turkish president

He said he was arrested after being reported as a “friend of (President) Erdogan,” and added that he was subjected to physical and moral pressures during his prison time, but he did not lose hope regardless.

“I’ve experienced great physical and spiritual pressures. Despite that, I have never been in despair. I thought, ‘Allah will open this door for me one day and I will go back to my country’,” he stressed.

Orhan’s wife Ayse also expressed her happiness over reuniting with her husband and said: “10 years of longing is over.”

“My husband went there [Syria] for business, he did not deserve any of it,” she added.

Fadime, Orhan’s daughter, said they are able to celebrate Eid (the Muslim festive holiday) for the first time after many years.

She added that the “only important” thing is having “your loved ones with you.”

Source: Anadolu Agency