US disavows ‘diplomat’ arrested in Turkey

The State Department has acknowledged that a man arrested in Turkey last month was a US citizen, but denies he was a diplomat. Ankara earlier said the man had tried to sell a fake diplomatic passport to a Syrian national.

“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 DJK had been arrested at 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 RS – attempting to fly to Germany with a fake document. 

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

When the American was searched, police found $10,000 in the envelope and a diplomatic passport in his own name, according to Turkish media. DJK 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 the diplomatic passport the Turks say they found is authentic, or DJK 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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