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Turkey frees Israeli accused of artifact smuggling attempt

The Acre resident was allowed to return home and is barred from entering the Anatolian nation again.

The flag of Turkey. Credit: Markus Pfaff/Shutterstock.
The flag of Turkey. Credit: Markus Pfaff/Shutterstock.

Turkey has freed an Israeli man after he was held in custody for over a month on suspicion of attempting to smuggle out a historical artifact.

The Israeli, a resident of Acre, was arrested at the Antalya airport on Aug. 6 after a decorative bell was found in his backpack.

The Turks claimed the bell is an ancient, historical item. His family said that he bought it in a market, presenting security camera footage of him purchasing the item while on vacation with his wife and children.

The man also showed a receipt for the purchase of the $100 item from a local market and said that he was under the impression that it was mass-produced.

Under the conditions of his release, the man was allowed to return to Israel on Thursday but was barred from entering Turkey again.

“I am happy that the mission was completed and my client is on the way to Israel,” his lawyer Nir Yaslovitz said in a statement, thanking Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen for helping to secure his release.

In related news, a Madagascar court in August sentenced an Israeli man to two years in prison for attempting to smuggle dozens of rare tortoises out of the country.

The man, whose identity remains under gag order, was also fined $400.

The 39-year-old from Beitar Illit, south of Jerusalem, was arrested at the airport after 59 rare tortoises were found in his possession.

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