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New Zealand pilot taken hostage tells wife and young son ‘It’s me’ in chilling new ‘proof of life’ video

New Zealand pilot taken hostage tells wife and young son ‘It’s me’ in chilling new ‘proof of life’ video

A New Zealand pilot who was taken hostage by West Papua rebels has sent a heartbreaking video message to his wife and daughter.

The video of Phillip Mark Mehrtens, 38, was taken on 22 December 2023 but only released in February 2024, a year after he was taken hostage by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB).

Looking gaunt and dishevelled, the former Jetstar pilot says: “Hello, it’s me,” and nervously chuckles.

“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,” he says.

The pilot was abducted for the group to use as a bargaining chip in their independence movement.

Mr Mehrtens was working for Indonesian company Susi Air when he was abducted after landing on a remote airstrip in the Nduga province, in Indonesia’s western half of New Guinea.