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RNZ Pacific

More videos appear to have been released by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) showing New Zealand hostage Phillip Mehrtens.

The New Zealander was taken hostage more than a year ago on February 7 in Paro in the highlands of the Indonesian-ruled region of West Papua while providing vital air links and supplies to remote communities.

In the recent videos he is seen surrounded by armed men and delivers a statement, saying his “life is at risk” because of air strikes conducted by the Indonesian military.

New Zealand pilot Phillip Mehrtens - plea for his release
An appeal in February by Foreign Minister Winston Peters for the release of the New Zealand hostage pilot Phillip Mehrtens by his West Papuan rebel captors. Image: NZ govt

He asks Indonesia to cease airstrikes and for foreign governments to pressure Indonesia to not conduct any aerial bombardments.

RNZ has sought comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Earlier this year Foreign Minister Winston Peters strongly urged those holding Mehrtens to release him immediately without harm.

Peters said his continued detention served no-one’s interests.

In the last year, a wide range of New Zealand government agencies has been working extensively with Indonesian authorities and others towards securing Mehrtens release.

The response, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has also been supporting his family.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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