Peace activist Andreas Soutzis

Peace activist still held in north over walkie talkie

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Members of the European Parliament, main opposition AKEL’s George Georgiou and Niyazi Kizilyurek, have demanded that authorities in the Turkish occupied north of the island release a peace activist arrested on suspicion of spying on the Turkish army.

Greek Cypriot pro-reunification activist, Andreas Soutzis, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of espionage after authorities in the north found a walkie talkie and maps in his possession.

In a joint press statement, Georgiou and Kizilyurek said that Soutzis’ arrest on the charge of possession of a walkie talkie and photographic material from a military area implying that he is a spy is unprecedented.

They said they will raise the matter at the next session of the European Parliament, noting that such actions are irrational and torpedo the climate between the two communities at a time when they should be pushing for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

“Andreas Soutzis is a well-known activist fighting for the reunification of Cyprus and our people, respected amongst the Turkish Cypriot community. That is also the reason why his actions have also been targeted by nationalists in both communities,” the two MEPs said.

Soutzis’ detention was extended for an additional eight days by a Turkish Cypriot court on Thursday.

He had been initially remanded in custody for five days after being arrested on September 3.

The pro-solution activist was arrested as a suspected spy because he was found to be carrying a walkie talkie to stay in communication with friends, while on an excursion in the north.

He was stopped and arrested at the Pergamos crossing in the Famagusta area after authorities had found a walkie talkie he had left behind at a hotel in the village of Galateia in the Karpas peninsula.

Soutzis first appeared before a court in Trikomo with charges of possessing photographic material from a military base in the area and illegal communication devices.

Turkish Cypriot officers told the court they had confiscated a walkie talkie, maps indicating the base and photographic evidence.

Hiking photos

Soutzis’ Turkish Cypriot lawyer, Oncel Polili, told the Cyprus News Agency that the photos found in Soutzis’ possession were taken when he and 25 other Greek Cypriots were hiking from Deryneia to the walled city of Famagusta.

Polili said that so far, authorities have not charged Soutzis with espionage, but have requested time from the court to review material found in his possession.

The lawyer fired against the Turkish Cypriot authorities who have failed to follow the court’s orders to allow Soutzis to visit a hospital in the north for a health check-up.

He further accused them of purposely delaying investigations, arguing that officers had more than enough time to go through material from devices he had in his possession.

As reported by Turkish Cypriot media, Soutzis had been found with nine maps, noting the military base in the area, two digital cameras, a GPS device and walkie talkies and memory cards with 21,775 files on them.

Polili noted that authorities have broken every rule in the book, and that he will be taking the matter up with the bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime, “which should have already intervened” in the case.

Meanwhile, apart from a typical call from the ministry of foreign affairs for his release, no other political party or entity have intervened in the case.

Sources close to Soutzis’ family say that they wish to keep reactions to the minimum to prevent any further harm to the case.