Two pilots return to Israel after arrest in Eritrea

Eritrean authorities held pilots after they were found trying to take a suspicious mechanical piece through the airport in Asmara.

August 23, 2011 17:39
[illustrative photo]

airplane 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

Two Israeli pilots detained by Eritrean authorities for over a month under suspicion of arms smuggling were released and returned to Israel Tuesday, Foreign Ministry officials said.

Yehuda Maoz and Vered Aharonson were held by authorities in Eritrea after being arrested at the international airport in Asmara.

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They were held under “house arrest” in a hotel in the capital.

Israel and Eritrea have diplomatic relations, with ambassadors in each other’s countries.

According to Foreign Ministry officials these ambassadors were critical in bringing the incident to its conclusion on Tuesday.

Maoz and Aharonson worked for an Israeli company called Gesher Aviri, and reportedly were transporting spare parts to an Israeli company that provides maritime security in the region when they were arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle in weapons parts.

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