On December 22, Turkey’s Daily Sabah reports that an individual purported to be a U.S. diplomat was arrested in Istanbul:.
“In a written statement from the Istanbul Police Department, it was reported that on Nov. 11, 2021, at around 5 p.m., it was determined that Syrian national R.S., who wanted to go to Germany from Istanbul Airport with a fake passport, tried to go abroad with another person’s passport during the checks at the passport point.
Following an investigation, it was determined that the passport that R.S. used while trying to escape belonged to D.J.K., a diplomat at the U.S. Consulate in Beirut. During the examination of the camera footage, it was noted that the two suspects met in the airport and changed their clothes there and R.S. then received the passport from the American diplomat D.J.K.
In the statement, it was stated that both suspects were taken into custody, and the following information was shared: “During the body search, $10,000 and a diplomatic passport of his own name were found in the envelope from the American citizen D.J.K. Syrian national R.S., who was found trying to exit the country by using fake passports, was one of the persons referred to the judicial authorities. He was released on charges of ‘forgery of official documents.’ The person named D. J. K., an American citizen, was arrested and handed over to prison.”
We should note that there is no U.S. Consulate in Beirut. There is, however, a U.S. Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.
On December 23, Daily Sabah has a statement from the State Department refuting that the individual arrested is one of its diplomats:
“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,” a State Department official said but gave no further details.
Later on December 23, Hurriyet Daily News published an image of the U.S. passport of the individual arrested as released by Turkish authorities. The name was redacted but the biographic information and the annotation that “The bearer is a member of the family of …. ” are clearly visible:
Turkish authorities have disclosed the passport of a U.S. citizen who was detained and arrested on the charges of “forging official documents” while reportedly trying to help a Syrian national leave Turkey.
On the first page of the passport, it is seen that the U.S. citizen, identified only by initials D.J.K., was born in Syria in 1988 and received his travel document on May 18, 2021, which is valid until May 17, 2026.
Meanwhile, the U.S. officials denied the allegations that D.J.K. was a U.S. diplomat following reports in the Turkish media that he worked for the U.S. Consulate in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut.
If this is a genuine diplomatic passport, it means that the spouse of the individual arrested is accredited to Lebanon. Diplomatic family members do hold diplomatic passports (as well as regular passports) but their diplomatic status is dependent on the principal, that is the employee’s status and assignment. Diplomatic passports of family members normally carry an annotation such as the one indicated on the passport image released by Turkish authorities.
This passport appears to be a diplomatic passport issued on May 18, 2021. In addition to the annotation, this has a 5-year validity with expiration date of May 17, 2026. U.S. diplomatic passports are typically valid for 5 years; regular passports unless limited by the State Department are normally valid for 10 years. Regular passports also typically do not carry annotations like the one shown in this individual’s passport.
Since the principal in this case was not part of the Turkish charges, we will not publish the name here. We should note however, that the principal appears to be a new employee at State with consular appointment submitted for Senate confirmation just this past summer and confirmed recently via voice vote.
We will likely learn more about this case as it goes forward. Or maybe not. After all, this arrest occurred in Istanbul in November 11, and we’re just hearing of this now, five weeks later. So this was a hush-hush matter until it wasn’t. Makes you wonder what happened, yes?
A very odd story from Turkey of a Black passport, $10,000, CCTV footage of a change of clothes, a Syrian arrested in possession of said passport and charged with forgery but released pending trial, and a Lebanon-based U.S. diplomat who is now in Turkish custody. https://t.co/daXZ3P9jY8
— TSB (@TweetingTSB) December 22, 2021
US diplomat arrested on suspicion of selling fake passporthttps://t.co/D2W2hnkka4 pic.twitter.com/QLmTDliz1N
— Hürriyet Daily News (@HDNER) December 23, 2021
US refutes that person arrested by Turkish police for selling his passport to a Syrian attempting to travel to Germany is a diplomathttps://t.co/5GIN4wIS37
— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) December 23, 2021