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Duke scholar free from Armenian prison, concentrates on work

10/17/2005 1:08 PM

By: Associated Press

(DURHAM) – A Duke University scholar is back at work on his doctoral dissertation after spending two months in an Armenian prison this summer. Yektan Turkyilmaz was detained when he tried to leave that country with antique books, which is a violation of Armenian law.

Supporters said Turkyilmaz bought the books from street vendors. He was given a two-year suspended sentence in August and eventually was allowed to leave Armenia, though the books were confiscated.

Turkyilmaz is a citizen of Turkey, and is the only Turkish scholar who has been allowed to study in Armenia. The countries have tense relations dating back to World War I.

Turkyilmaz’s dissertation touches on that hostility, and he says he thinks that’s part of the reason he ended up in jail. He says Armenian authorities grilled him for hours, asking questions that had nothing to do with the books he bought.

Turkyilmaz worries that the conviction could give him trouble with immigration authorities in the future. But he says he’s not bitter about it, and he’s happy to be back in the United States to continue his work.

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