Turks Release Group Arrested on Religious Charges
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ A Briton, a Canadian and nine Turks arrested in the southern city of Adana on religious proselytizing charges have been released pending trial, according to officials in Adana.
Andrew James Baldwin, the Briton who teaches English at the Cukurova University in Adana, and Rick Kirkwood Monroe, the Canadian who is a former employee of a power company there, were arrested along with the Turks on March 3 and accused of violating Turkey’s secularity laws by holding religious meetings with the aim of proselytizing.
In dispatches March 6, Turkey’s Anatolia and Hurriyet news agencies identified the 11 as Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Associated Press transmitted a dispatch based on Anatolia’s account.
In a telephone interview with the AP, however, Baldwin said that they are ″mainline Protestant, ordinary believers in the Bible″ without any particular denomination.
He said he believed the authorities were misled on the question of their denomination because some Jehovah’s Witnesses literature was found in their possession.
A martial law prosecutor in Adana, speaking on condition of anonymity, and police officer Kemal Bayrak said all 11 have been released but would go on trial next month at a date yet to be decided.
Asked about the group’s denomination, Bayrak said the 11 represented ″just a Christian group.″
Baldwin said he is still teaching at the university but that Monroe had to leave his job.
Twenty-three Jehovah’s Witnesses, all Turks, were sentenced in December to prison terms of four to six years after their conviction of proselytizing.