We got out ‘through the skin of our teeth’ say Brits liberated from Russia


Two Britons who have been released, along with ten other prisoners taken prisoner by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine, have said they have come out of “danger zone” but through “the skin of our teeth”.

Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were released on Wednesday along with ten other foreign prisoners after an exchange between Ukraine and Russia, brokered by Saudi Arabia.

Among the freed were three other Britons, John Harding, Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy.

The Saudi news agency has released photos showing some of them at night in Riyadh, where they were flown in after being released.

Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner thanked those who worked to free them and the public for their support since their arrest in April in a video message recorded on an airplane.

“We just want everyone to know that we are now out of harm’s way and that we are on our way home to our families,” said 28-year-old Aslin.

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Mr Pinner, a 48-year-old former British Army soldier, added: “By the skin of our teeth.”

Mr Aslin continued: “Not just us, there were a total of 10 foreigners in captivity. We’ll be pretty quiet…until we settle things, but we just want everyone to know the good news.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported us, it is really appreciated.”

Mr. Pinner agreed, “Thank you to everyone, I can’t thank you enough.”

Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner were accused of being mercenaries and sentenced to death by a court in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic after fighting in the southeastern city of Mariupol.

Two US military veterans Alex Drueke, 40, and Andy Huynh, 27, as well as a Moroccan, Swede and Croat, were also part of the group of released men.

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Photos have surfaced of them arriving by plane in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, apparently escorted by Saudi officials.

Rumors of their execution did not circulate until Tuesday.

It is the most important prisoner exchange of the war to date. In total, 200 prisoners from Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant were exchanged directly, including fighters of the Azov regiment, marines and the National Guard.

They would be treated in hospital.

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Vladimir Putin ally and oligarch Victor Medvedchuk were exchanged in exchange for the 200, along with 55 Russian prisoners.

The prime minister said: “Huge welcome news that five British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine are being returned safely, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families.”

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Liz Truss thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “for his efforts to secure the release of detainees, and Saudi Arabia for their help”.

“Russia must end the ruthless exploitation of POWs and civilian prisoners for political purposes,” she added.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the release “ends many months of uncertainty and suffering, including the threat of the death penalty, for them and their families at the hands of Russia”.

“Tragically, that was not the case for one of the detainees and our thoughts are with Paul Urey’s family.”

The British aid volunteer died earlier this year while being held by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.

The post We Came Out ‘With the Peel of Our Teeth’ Say Britons Freed from Russia appeared first on The Telegraph.


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