New video shows NZ hostage

New Zealand pilot Phillip Mehrtens stands with a West Papua National Liberation Army soldier,...
New Zealand pilot Phillip Mehrtens stands with a West Papua National Liberation Army soldier, somewhere in Papua, on December 2, in a photo released by the group this week. Photo: supplied
The New Zealand pilot being held hostage in West Papua says his captors are treating him well, in a video released this week.

Phillip Mehrtens, originally of Christchurch, was kidnapped by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) a year ago when he landed a small commercial plane in a mountainous area of the Indonesian region.

"I’m OK. They are treating me well. I’m trying to stay positive and I hope that you ... are healthy and doing OK and getting support," Mehrtens said in the video, released by the separatist group with photos of himself and its members.

The former Jetstar pilot addressed his family in the video, filmed on December 22.

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

In another video released this week, the gaunt-looking 38-year-old said his captors would help him to get Ventolin inhalers and an e-book reader.

He also said the commander holding him, Egianus Kogoya, would try to organise a phone call with his family.

The TPNPB earlier this month said it had ordered Kogoya to release Mehrtens, but it is unclear when he will be.

TPNPB chief of general staff Terianus Satto said Mehrtens would be released to "protect humanity and ... human rights".

"TPNPB will return the pilot Philip Max Martherns [sic] to his family through the jurisdiction of the secretary-general of the United Nations," he said.

The armed independence movement in West Papua, fighting an insurgency with Jakarta, has many factions, with disparate groups in remote areas.

Satto said Kogoya would face court martial if he did not release Mehrtens.

Kogoya’s group stormed Mehrtens’ single-engine plane after it landed on a runway in Paro, a village in the Nduga regency, on February 7 last year.

Planning to use the Susi Air pilot to negotiate, Kogoya previously said they would not release him unless Indonesia granted Papua sovereignty.

"Using the pilot as a guarantee for an independent Papua at a fixed price is absolutely impossible to happen," TPNPB spokesman Sebby Sambom said last week.

Sambom said the TPNPB had called for Mehrtens’ release despite a lack of diplomatic effort by Jakarta and Wellington.

A meeting in Papua New Guinea in April with a delegation from New Zealand ended without a follow-up, he said.

New Zealand authorities last week said they were working with all parties on securing Mehrtens’ release, but had no further details.  — Agencies