Turkish police say they arrested a US diplomat at Istanbul airport last month after a suspected passport handover was discovered. The man is accused of handing his own passport over to a Syrian national in the operation.
Officers say the Syrian man, only identified using the initials RS, was trying to fly to Germany using the document after he acquired it. The American suspect is said to be working at the US consulate in Beirut and had $10,000 in cash upon his person when arrested.
The police have access to CCTV footage from the incident on 11 November that shows the men swapping clothes at the airport, as reported by the BBC. While they have been asked for a statement, the US State Department has not yet commented on the allegations, which emerged on Wednesday 22 December.
The Syrian is facing charges of forging an official document but has been released on bail. Meanwhile, the US diplomat identified with the initials DJK remains in detention according to Turkish police.
The Turkish press has footage of the incident that can be seen on social media sites. One has posted a consolidated clip of the events with the caption: “Passenger of Syrian nationality who wanted to go to Germany from Istanbul Airport with a fake passport was caught. It turned out that the fake passport belonged to a diplomat working at the US Consulate in Beirut, and the diplomat sold it to the passenger for 10 thousand dollars.”
İstanbul Havalimanı'ndan sahte pasaportla Almanya'ya gitmek isteyen Suriye uyruklu yolcu yakalandı. Sahte pasaportun ABD'nin Beyrut Konsolosluğu'nda çalışan bir diplomata ait olduğu ve diplomatın 10 bin dolar karşılığında yolcuya sattığı ortaya çıktı.
— Hürriyet.com.tr (@Hurriyet) December 22, 2021
Diplomatic relations between the US and Turkey have been strained in recent years, including a recent row over comments Western powers made about Osman Kavala – a philanthropist jailed over protests and a military coup attempt in 2016.
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