After 20 months in bureaucratic limbo, Canadian-American Christian David Byle was arrested on 13 October and detained overnight by security police in Ankara, the Turkish capital.
His detention took place the morning after US pastor Andrew Brunson was ordered released by an Izmir court and allowed to return to the United States.
Although Byle was initially informed he would be deported the next day, the long-term resident of Turkey was then released and ordered to leave Turkey within 15 days. After returning to his home in Istanbul, he flew out of Istanbul to the United States today (25 October), without incident.
As a Canadian-American, Byle had no currently valid residence permit to present to officers conducting routine ID checks when he arrived from Istanbul at the Ankara train station.
But when he was taken to the Turkish capital’s Anti-Terror Police Department, officials quickly confirmed that their latest Western-citizen detainee had in fact been staying in the country legally for the past 1.5 years, protected by a temporary constitutional-court order blocking a previous criminal-court order that had called for his deportation and subsequent re-entry ban.
“They would have no legal grounds to deport me if I was charged only over my religious activities, none of which are illegal under Turkish law, and are in fact protected by the Turkish Constitution. So they needed a more legally justifiable reason to deport me.”