US diplomat arrested in Turkey for selling passport to Syrian national

Turkish authorities announced that they have detained a Lebanon-based US diplomat for allegedly selling a passport to a Syrian national who then attempted to use it to board a plane from Turkey to Germany.

The Istanbul Security Directorate issued a statement today, confirming the arrest of an American who is an employee of the US Consulate in Lebanon’s capital Beirut.

The arrest was made after an incident at Istanbul Airport when a Syrian national tried to board a plane to Germany using someone else’s passport. The passport belonged to a US diplomat based in Beirut, Lebanon. 

The police noted in their statement that security camera footage showed the American meeting with the Syrian national in the airport and exchanging clothes. It is believed the passport was handed over during the meeting.

Police searched the American and found $10,000 in an envelope and a passport in his name, according to the security directorate statement.

He was remanded in custody while the Syrian national, who is facing charges of forgery, was released pending trial.

While foreign diplomats frequently have immunity from prosecution in the country they are posted to, the American was accredited as a diplomat in Lebanon, not Turkey, and therefore may face punishment.

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