Syriac Orthodox monk arrested and freed in Turkey, Sefer Bileçen

Turkey frees Syriac Orthodox monk arrested for complicity with Kurdish separatist PKK

Although released from prison, Syriac Orthodox monk Sefer Bileçen, arrested last January 9 by Turkish security forces on charges of offering help and coverage to PKK militants, the Kurdish worker party, which is banned and labeled a terrorist organization by the Turkish government and army, cannot leave his residence.

The priest was released on Tuesday January 14 at the request of his lawyers, and after the religious had committed himself not to leave his home and live in a condition of partial freedom until the accusations of complicity with the members of the PKK will be confirmed and denied.

Father Sefer Bileçen, priest of the Mor Yakup Monastery in Nusaybin (ancient Nisibi, currently included in the Turkish province of Mardin), after his arrest had been brought before a judge of the local court on charges of flanking against “a terrorist organization”.

For him, the prison doors were immediately opened.

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In the days following the arrest, Turkish media reported that investigations regarding the monk had started in September 2018, when cameras mounted on two drones of the Turkish security services had filmed two PKK militants entering the monastery of Mor Yakup. Since then, the monastery and in particular Sefer had been placed under surveillance by intelligence services.

In September 2019, a PKK militant arrested by Turkish security forces had confessed to having visited Mor Yakup monastery several times to eat and drink.

Other testimonies reported in the Turkish media also confirm that the alleged “complicity” contested by the Turkish authorities to the Syriac Orthodox monk was limited to the simple offering of food and drinks to people who said they were hungry and thirsty.

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(Source: Fides)

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.