Turkish intelligence saves Iranian pilot from Tehran agents
“Iranian intelligence agents tried to drug me and take me back to Iran. I am thankful to Turkish authorities for saving me from the kidnapping attempt,” Mehrdad Abdarbashi said.
Abdarbashi, a helicopter pilot for Iran Air Force, refused to participate in military operations in Syria and came to the eastern province of Van, asking for asylum in a third country in 2018.
“I did not want to be involved in a proxy war going on there,” he said, referring to the Syrian conflict.
While he was waiting for his documents, Turkish security officials “gave him a special phone and a SIM card, so that they would be able to listen to his calls with that.”
“Someone who introduced himself as an ‘interpreter from the Migration Management Directorate’ called and wanted to see me. Turkish police prevented the meeting thinking that it may be an abduction attempt,” he noted.
Soon, an Iranian woman contacted Abdarbashi.
“Turkish police gave me a device to connect with her phone, and through that, they were able to listen to her WhatsApp calls,” he noted.
The woman first asked Abdarbashi to “go on a trip outside the city,” which he refused on the advice of Turkish police.
“The second try, police told me, was when she would invite me to dinner and put some drugs in my food to make me unconscious so they could kidnap me,” he said.
On Sept. 24, Abdarbashi said, he told the woman to come to his home for dinner.
Turkish intelligence detained eight people, including two who described themselves as Iranian “agents,” as they attempted to kidnap Abdarbashi.
The suspects appeared in a court in Van on Oct. 4 to face charges for conspiracy to commit espionage.
Turkey is one of the few countries that Iranians can enter without a visa. Millions of Iranians visit each year, and at least 150,000 hold residence permits in the country, according to Turkey’s Directorate General of Migration Management.
Hiding in an undisclosed location in eastern Turkey, the former Iranian military helicopter pilot says he never leaves home and orders whatever he needs online.
“I think Iranian intelligence will come after me, and this time they won’t try to kidnap me; they will just kill me,” he said.