Duke University doctoral student Yektan Turkyilmaz is something of a rarity in the chronically uneasy relationship between Turkey and neighboring Armenia: a Turkish historian accepted by Armenians as impartial.
Which makes it seem all the more odd to his Duke associates, friends and family that after allowing him to conduct research at Armenia's national archives -- reportedly the first Turk ever to do so -- Armenian authorities have detained him for more than three weeks.
Despite pleas from Duke administrators and others, Turkyilmaz remains in a legal limbo. Although he has not been charged, he ran afoul of an Armenian law that makes it a crime to take any book more than 50 years old out of the country without permission.
While researching in Armenia, Turkyilmaz bought several second-hand books from street vendors, said his adviser, Duke professor Orin Starn.
Turkyilmaz had finished a six-week stint at the Armenian archives in the capital city of Yerevan, the last leg of travels that also have taken him to Paris and Ankara, Turkey, for his dissertation on Turkey and the surrounding region in the early 20th century. He was pulled off a departing plane at Yerevan's airport on June 17 and held by Armenia's National Security Service.
He has not been allowed to communicate with his family in Turkey or with Duke associates, although he now has a lawyer, Starn said. The lawyer has relayed word that Turkyilmaz is in good health and says he has not been mistreated, said Starn, who has communicated with Turkyilmaz's sister in Istanbul.
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