Turkey Detained US Diplomat over Fake Passport Sale

Photo credit: Anadolu Agency

A US diplomat who works at the US Consulate in Lebanon’s capital Beirut has been arrested by Turkish authorities for allegedly providing a fake passport to a Syrian national who immediately attempted to use his new travel ID to board a flight to Germany.

The Istanbul Security Directorate confirmed the arrest in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement says that the suspect, identified by his initials D.J.K., was detained at Istanbul Airport on November 11 on suspicion of selling the forged passport for $10,000 and was later formally arrested.

The arrest was made after the Syrian national, identified as RS, tried to board a plane to Germany using the fake passport, after which the police discovered in the security camera footage that he had previously met with the American in the airport and exchanged clothes.

It is believed during the meeting, the American handed over the passport to the Syrian national.

The subsequent body search of the American produced an envelope with $10,000 in it as well as a passport in his name, after which he was detained while the Syrian was released pending trial under charges of forgery.

The immunity from prosecution that foreign diplomats have in the country they are posted to can’t be applied in this case since the American was accredited as a diplomat in Lebanon, not Turkey, where he can be subject to prosecution and punishment.

Both the US Embassy in Ankara and the US Embassy in Beirut refused to comment on the incident. The US State Department also did not immediately reply to the request for comment.

US-Turkey ties have been strained in recent years over various issues, including the detention of US diplomatic mission workers in Turkey charged for alleged ties to a network blamed for a failed 2016 coup attempt, as well as the recent row over comments Western powers made about Osman Kavala, the philanthropist jailed over protests and the military coup attempt.

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