New Zealand pilot sends heartbreaking message to his wife and children a year after he was seized by rebels

13 February 2024, 10:01

Mr Mehrtens was kidnapped by rebels a year ago
Mr Mehrtens was kidnapped by rebels a year ago. Picture: Twitter

By Asher McShane

A New Zealand pilot taken hostage by rebels in the forests of West Papua has sent a heartbreaking message to his wife and daughter one year after he was kidnapped.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Philip Mark Mehrtens, a 38-year-old former Jetstar pilot, appears gaunt in the new hostage video where he tells his family: “I’m OK, they are treating me well... I'm trying to stay positive and I hope that you and Jacob are healthy and doing OK and getting support.

“I love you both lots and miss you both lots and hope to be able to talk with you soon.”

He said that the regional commander told him he would try to organise a phone call with his family in the coming days.

Mr Mehrtens was kidnapped last year when he flew a light aircraft or the Indonesian airline Susi Air to Paro in the Papua highlands, carrying five Papuan passengers.

Read more: Jewish audience member 'hounded out’ of Soho Theatre by comedian Paul Currie

Read more: Harry and Meghan's new Sussex website that doesn't mention monarchy ‘would have infuriated the Queen’, critics say

Philip Mark Mehrtens appears in hostage video after kidnapping by rebels in West Papua

He was supposed to pick up a group of health workers who had been under threat, but his plane was set alight and the Papuan passengers released before he was abducted.

The rebels threaten to kill him unless Papua was granted independence from the rest of Indonesia.

In another video released last week, he asked for his inhalers and a Kindle with some books on it to be delivered to him.

“Can you please help to get one or two ventolin inhalers just so that I have them available in case I get some asthma and, if possible, can I please get an e-book reader like a Kindle with as many English books as possible. That would be very much appreciated,” he says.

Mr Mehrtens was working for an Indonesian aviation company on February 7 last year when he was abducted by rebels who want independence
Mr Mehrtens was working for an Indonesian aviation company on February 7 last year when he was abducted by rebels who want independence. Picture: Social Media

Earlier this month New Zealand called for the pilot’s immediate release.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the New Zealander had been providing “vital air links and supplies to remote communities” at the time he was kidnapped.

“We strongly urge those holding Phillip to release him immediately and without harm. His continued detention serves the interests of no one,” Peters said in a statement to mark a year since the pilot was taken.

New Zealand is said to be “exploring all avenues” to bring the pilot home.

Indonesia deployed police and soldiers into the highland district in an attempt to rescue Mehrtens shortly after he was taken captive.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Hungary's Barnabas Varga pictured for the first time after suffering horror head injury against Scotland

Hungary's Barnabas Varga pictured for the first time after suffering horror head injury against Scotland

Govia Thameslink Railway has put the bins in almost 500 men's toilets

Train firm puts sanitary bins in men’s lavatories to combat 'taboo' of incontinence

Princess Anne's husband Sir Tim Laurence has visited her in hospital after she was kicked in the head

Princess Anne's husband gives health update after she was kicked in the head by a horse and given concussion

Jay Slater's employer says 'picture being painted' of British teen is 'just not true' as hunt continues in Tenerife

Jay Slater's employer says 'picture being painted' of British teen is 'just not true' as hunt continues in Tenerife

Japanese emperor and empress meet King Charles and Queen Camilla

Japanese emperor and empress meet with Royals - after Emperor Naruhito studied his life's passion The Thames barrier

Metropolitan Police officers walking a beat on patrol in Fulham, London

Five more Met police officers accused of placing bets on the timing of the election

Princess Anne's husband has visited her in hospital

Princess Anne's husband visits her in hospital after she was hit on the head by a horse and given concussion

The Met Office has issued multiple "very high" warnings for pollen count

'Pollen bomb' to explode over UK - here's how to survive it

Dua Lipa suffered a security scare while rehearsing for her Glastonbury appearance

TikToker breaks into Dua Lipa rehearsals for Glastonbury and makes 'total prat' of themselves in security scare

Crazy Town frontman Shifty Shellshock has died at the age of 49

Crazy Town singer Shifty Shellshock - who was behind huge 2000s hit Butterfly dies at 49

Jay Slater (main) and Tenerife police hin ting for the missing Brit

Jay Slater detectives find different missing Briton while searching Tenerife gorge

Tommy Robinson has been arrested

Tommy Robinson arrested in Canada for immigration offences and stripped of passport

Exclusive
Home Secretary James Cleverly (left) and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast at Global Studios in Leicester Square, London. Picture date: Tuesday June 25, 2024.

James Cleverly debates Yvette Cooper on immigration | Watch Again

Exclusive
Home Secretary James Cleverly (left) and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast

Yvette Cooper says Labour will 'work with other countries' on migrant returns despite pledging to axe Rwanda scheme

The Tories have withdrawn support for two candidates being investigated over betting allegations.

Tories withdraw support for candidates caught up in election betting scandal

Yvette Cooper has dismissed claims made by James Cleverley on LBC

Yvette Cooper dismisses claims migrants are sitting in France 'waiting for Labour government'