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US disavows ‘diplomat’ arrested in Turkey

“We are aware of the detention of a US citizen in Turkey. The individual is not a US diplomat,” the State Department said on Wednesday afternoon. They gave no further details, adding only that the US was “providing appropriate consular services” to the individual, who has yet to be named.

Earlier in the day, Turkish media reported that a man identified only as D.J.K. had been arrested at the Istanbul airport on November 11, citing a police statement. The Istanbul Police Department said that passport control had flagged a Syrian national – identified only as R.S. – attempting to fly to Germany with a fake document. 

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After R.S. was caught at passport control, airport police checked surveillance cameras and found footage of him meeting with D.J.K. The two men exchanged clothes and R.S. received the passport, while giving D.J.K. an envelope.

When the American was searched, police found $10,000 in the envelope and a diplomatic passport to his own name, according to Turkish media. D.J.K. was arrested and remains in jail.

The US embassy in Ankara did not immediately comment on the reports. The State Department’s denial brings into question whether D.J.K.’s diplomatic passport the Turks say they found is authentic, or if he was posing as a diplomat in Lebanon. Either way, diplomatic immunity rules do not apply to him, as he was not accredited as such in Turkey, the newspaper Daily Sabah pointed out.

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