Hayes, an American student, was caught trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey in 1970. He was originally sentenced to four years and two months in a Turkish prison; with his release date weeks away, he learned that the authorities had chosen to penalize him with a life sentence. He escaped in 1975 to Greece, and then home.
Hayes wrote a book on his ordeal, Midnight Express, which later became the hit film Midnight Express, released in 1978, starring Brad Davis as Hayes. The film was directed by Alan Parker, with a screenplay by Oliver Stone. The movie differs from Hayes’ real life experiences in a number of respects, including a scene in which Hayes kills the prison guard Hamid, the main antagonist of the story. Nothing of the kind took place in real life, when in fact the prison guard was murdered by another prisoner years before Hayes’ actual escape.
Hayes is still active in the entertainment industry, specifically acting and writing. One of his successes was writing and directing 2003’s Southside (later released as Cock and Bull Story in the US).
 Interview on Midnight Express film
During the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, Alinur Velidedeoğlu, a Turkish advertiser, met Billy Hayes by chance and interviewed him on the film Midnight Express. Hayes expressed his disappointment with parts of the film adaptation, especially its portrayal of all Turks as bad, and his regret that Turkey’s image was negatively affected by the film. Hayes also displayed affection for Turkey and Istanbul. Although the Interpol warrant for him had by then been set aside, he explained that while he wanted to return, he hesitated to do so out of concern that many Turks might blame him for the negative publicity the movie had generated. The video was made available on YouTube. 
He finally did return to Turkey on June 14, 2007 to attend the 2nd Istanbul Conference on Democracy and Global Security, organized by the Turkish National Police (TNP) and the Turkish Institute for Police Studies (TIPS), to amend the negative implications of his book. He held a press conference on June 15 and made an apology to the Turkish people.
Edited by jetgar on 19 Aug 2009, 06:26
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