Christian Held in Turkey for 'Attempting Organized Propaganda' Released

Assyrian's family says videotaping was for nostalgic purposes with no ideological content.
Ibrahim Konutgan, a 27-year-old Assyrian Christian, has been jailed since June 8 for taking home videos in an ancient churchyard in Turkey's heavily militarized Southeast. Arrested on suspicion of attempting organized propaganda, he has been ordered released by Diyarbakir's State Security Court.

A formal statement is expected from the state prosecutor's office on the case within the next few days, his lawyer Kadir Pekdemir confirmed.

Konutgan was arrested by Turkish security police in Idil, a town in Sirnak province some 12 miles north of the Syrian border. Although born in Idil and still a Turkish citizen, Konutgan has lived in Europe since he was 10 years old.

Together with two others, Konutgan was reportedly observed videotaping in the graveyard of Idil's St. Mary's Church, located adjacent to facilities of the Sirnak 2nd Border Battalion of the Turkish army.

The Assyrian Christian's companions were his nephew Musa Konutgan, 20, a Swiss citizen visiting Turkey; and 18-year-old Bilal Gulec, son of the Public Registration Office director in Idil.

According to their families in Europe, the two young Assyrians were taking footage with Musa's video camera for their relatives who had immigrated from Idil to Switzerland and Germany. "It was just for nostalgic reasons," Musa's father Cebrail Konutgan said. "We wanted them to take it for our children, who have never been back there to see our home village."

Both Ibrahim Konutgan and Gulec were jailed in Midyat during an official investigation into the case by the state prosecutor's office. Although Musa Konutgan was questioned and required to sign a formal statement for the authorities, his foreign passport proved an asset. As a Swiss citizen he was released the same day, under orders ...

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April
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