Turkey: When Bringing A Holiday Souvenir Can Lead To Jail The ruins of Side in Turkey

Joël Soler, a French documentary filmmaker has paid the price for the very strict regulations that Turkey applies regarding the possession of antiques and old stones. He was held in prison for fifty days in appalling conditions.

Buying antiques may be punishable by imprisonment. After buying a carved stone on a market in during a stay in Turkey, Joël Soler was locked in prison for fifty days in appalling conditions, before being sentenced to two years and one month in prison suspended for " attempt to export an archaeological property ".

Very strict regulations on cultural goods
Before buying a stone, a sculpture or any other object of art or antiquity in Turkey, be aware that the country's regulations are very strict and heavily punished (heavy fines and prison terms).

To understand, let's take the report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

  • The export of cultural goods and antiques is severely regulated and punished in the event of fraud in Turkey (prison sentences, heavy fines). The notion of antiquity is interpreted very broadly by Turkish law.
  • Anyone accused of attempting to remove objects prohibited for export is liable to be either remanded in custody or prohibited from leaving the territory until their appearance in court (period of several months), and / or find themselves obliged to pay substantial deposits (up to € 9,000). They face a prison sentence of 5 to 10 years and the objects are confiscated.
    cell door in a prison cell door in a prison.

The case of Joël Soler is not an isolated case.

Joël Soler, the French documentary filmmaker, therefore fell within the scope of these very strict regulations and was sentenced to fifty days of detention in a prison where conditions were dire.

Unfortunately his story is not unlike that of a European tourist who, in August 2009, was sentenced after three and a half months of preventive detention, to one year and three months of imprisonment and a fine of 1,700 euros.

The facts for which he is accused: having bought a small piece of sculpted marble from a walking merchant for an amount of 20 euros.