Turkey says US diplomat arrested over fake passport

An American man allegedly working as a diplomat for the U.S. consulate in Lebanon has been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of selling a fake passport for $10,000 to a Syrian national, Turkey’s state news agency said on Wednesday.

According to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, which cited a statement from the Istanbul Security Directorate, the American man and the Syrian national were arrested after the latter allegedly tried to travel to Germany using the passport, which had been issued to the American man, from Istanbul International Airport on Nov. 11.

However, in a statement to The Hill, a spokesperson for the State Department said the American man is not a U.S. diplomat.

“We are aware of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Turkey. The individual is not a U.S. diplomat. We are providing appropriate consular services,” the statement added.

The statement from the Istanbul Security Directorate said that security camera footage of the individuals showed the two meeting at the airport and exchanging clothes with one another, per Anadolu Agency.

The police said they had video evidence of the American man handing over the diplomatic passport, which had been identified as suspicious at passport control, Reuters reported.

Anadolu Agency reported that $10,000 was allegedly found in an envelope along with a passport in the name of the American man — who was identified by his initials, D.J.K. — after police officers conducted a body search, per the statement from the Istanbul Security Directorate.

The American man was jailed following the incident and remains in detention. The Syrian man was released pending a possible trial for falsifying documents, according to Anadolu Agency.

Turkey is an important NATO ally and is considered an important U.S. security partner. Strain between the two countries was previously exacerbated, however, when a court ruled in 2019 that a U.S. Consulate employee would remain in a Turkish jail during his trial on espionage charges.

— Updated at 4:22 p.m.

Tags Lebanon State Department Turkey

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