Billy Hayes of ‘Midnight Express’ to raise Turkish flag
NEW YORK – Doğan News Agency
Billy Hayes was arrested while trying to smuggle two kilograms of hashish out of Turkey in 1970 when he was 23. DHA PhotoThe real-life character from the controversial movie “Midnight Express,” which was accused of misrepresenting Turkey to the world in 1978, will raise the Turkish flag on New York’s Wall Street, as part of Turkey's Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations in the city.
Billy Hayes was arrested while trying to smuggle two kilograms of hashish out of Turkey in 1970 when he was 23. He was sentenced to life in prison before the sentence was commuted to 30 years. After five years at Sağmalcılar and İmralı prisons, he escaped from jail.
A 1978 American/British film directed by Alan Parker, “Midnight Express,” was based on Hayes’ 1977 book of the same name, which described his nightmarish experiences in a Turkish jail.
The film deviates from the book’s accounts of the story, especially in its portrayal of Turks, and some have criticized the movie version, including Hayes himself.
“You can’t see a good Turk in the movie. In my opinion, it was a big problem. Everyone who watched the movie and never wants to visit Turkey will [change their view] when they see [me] raising the Turkish flag. At least I hope that,” he said.
“After all these things, this is the right thing for me, too. I love Istanbul and have good relations with Turks. In my book, I said that I was not angry with Turkey or its people but at being in prison. But then this film was made, deviating from my accounts. It imposed a big burden on all of us, especially on Turkey. Now there is a chance to restore it. My aim is to show people that the film ‘Midnight Express’ is very different from Turkey, Turks or Istanbul," he added.