Thursday, 18 April 2013

Tourist faces jail for collecting stones on Turkish beach

A US man is facing a 12-year jail term after picking up stones from a Mediterranean beach during a six-day beach holiday.

Jason Dement was detained by airport security when officials discovered a bag of stones in his luggage. Two of the stones appeared to be artifacts, officials said.

The 30-year-old from Mississippi faces prosecution under stringent Turkish laws against the smuggling of artifacts. A museum report confirmed the pieces identified by security were in fact artifacts, but it didn't state how old they were or what they may have been.

Demet told the Associated Press that he and his wife Sheila often collect stones as souvenirs. One stone was a triangular marble piece that looked like it had come from a building. The other was a brick coloured piece that looked a bit like old masonry.

"It had no inscription," Dement said. "It came from an ordinary beach. There were no historical sites around, no ancient ruins."

Dement was taken into custody at Antalya Airport on Sunday. The following day he was released but barred from leaving Turkey until a full report on the artifacts' value is received by a judge.

Dement has started a blog asking for help to cover his costs while in Turkey. Hopefully that won't be as long as the maximum 12-year sentence meted out for the smuggling of artifacts.


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