Turkish prosecutor indicts Assyrian priest on terrorism charges

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A Turkish prosecutor has drafted an indictment against Sefer (Aho) Bileçen, an Assyrian priest who was arrested and released pending trial in January, charging him with membership in a terrorist group, the Gazete Karınca news website reported.

The indictment included accusations based on an informant’s testimony and a 2018 gendarmerie report claiming that Bileçen’s monastery was visited by alleged members of terrorist groups.

During his four days under arrest in January, Bileçen had been questioned with regard to allegations.

While he has not denied claims that he offered food to the militants, he insisted that he only did it as a requirement of his faith, and not by a motivation to aid the group.

The prosecutor’s indictment on the other hand pointed out that the priest did not report the militants to law enforcement, asserting that his statement makes it clear he was aware of the visitors’ identity.

Bileçen’s monastery is located in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, which for decades has been the scene of armed clashes between security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Assyrians are an autochthonous Christian group who were the victims of massacres and forced displacement at the beginning of the 20th century in what is today recognized by many as genocide.

Turkish Minute

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