Danny Aweke
Danny AwekeCourtesy

35-year-old Danny Aweke, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Turkey for smuggling khat, landed on Saturday night at around 8:30 p.m. at Ben Gurion Airport.

Upon his arrival in Israel, Aweke thanked the attorneys in Turkey and Israel, adding, “I have been waiting for this moment, when I will meet my family and friends again, and I personally thank MK Pnina Tamano-Shata who worked tirelessly so that diplomatic parties intervened on my behalf. I thank all the people of Israel and ask that I be allowed to rest and recover in peace together with my family."

Aweke was brought to the airport in Istanbul by Turkish police and was greeted by the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Hani Nahmias. He was released following the mobilization of President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who turned to their Turkish counterparts and asked for his release as a humanitarian gesture.

Aweke served in the IDF, and had no criminal record. After he underwent a car accident and could not find a job, criminals lured him to fly khat to Germany and told him it was completely legal to do so.He then traveled with $100 in his pocket and was arrested on January 22, 2019 on a connecting flight in Istanbul, with 34 kg of khat in his suitcase.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that "after many humanitarian and diplomatic efforts, we were able to return Danny Aweke to his family. I am very grateful to President Herzog and the Foreign Ministry personnel at the Israeli Embassy in Ankara, the Consulate General in Istanbul, and the Ministry's headquarters in Jerusalem for the hard work they put in to reach this moment. We will continue to act for the citizens of Israel around the world."

Hebrew video:

שוחרר הישראלי שנכלא על הברחת גת בטורקיה