Turkey condemns detention of Turkish consular official on suspicion of spying in Greece

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The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday condemned the detention of a Turkish consular official on suspicion of spying in Greece.

In a statement, the ministry said that the process through which Sebahattin Bayram was detained is in violation of human rights and international law.

“We condemn the arrest of Sebahattin Bayram, the contracted secretary of the Consulate General of Rhodes, within the scope of the investigation carried out by the Greek authorities on allegations of espionage taking photographs of ships. In the process leading to the detention of our Greek citizen personnel, Greece violated the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the right to freedom and security in the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to respect private and family life,” it said.

The statement added that Greek media coverage of the incident that violates the presumption of innocence and targets the personnel and family as well as Turkish representatives and employees in Greece is also concerning.

Necessary steps will be taken to protect the rights of Turkish staff, it added.

Police in Greece have detained a Turkish consular official on suspicion of espionage, a senior Greek source told Reuters Friday, in a case likely to further strain relations between the two NATO allies.

The detained official, a Greek national employed at the Turkish Consulate, was arrested on Friday after being questioned a week ago. Another Greek national was also arrested.

“One person was working at the Turkish Consulate in Rhodes and the second man worked on a passenger ship which was operating the Rhodes-Kastelorizo line as a cook,” a police official told Reuters.

The tiny island of Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis), just 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) off the Turkish coast, lies in disputed waters that have been a source of escalating tensions between Turkey and Greece.

One of the suspects was accused of photographing movements of Greek armed forces in the Aegean Sea. Greek media has reported that both individuals are members of Greece’s Muslim minority based in the north of the country.

Greece and Turkey have long-running tensions, ranging from the divided island of Cyprus to exploration rights in the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea.

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