Greek Cypriot peace activist still held in north

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The ordeal of a Greek Cypriot peace activist held in the Turkish-occupied north on suspicion of espionage continues as a military court extended his detention pending its ruling.

Andreas Soudjis has been held in the north for more than 20 days as Turkish Cypriot authorities contemplated charging him with spying after finding a set of walkie-talkies and photos from a military area in his possession.

Family and friends believed his detention had ended as a civil court in Trikomo had earlier issued him a warning and a suspended fine of 30,000 TL (around €1,640) for possession of a walkie-talkie without a licence.

The use of walkie-talkies is prohibited in the north; it emerged from Soudjis’ case.

Soudjis, a pro-reunification activist, was arrested coming back from the north through the Pergamos crossing on September 1 on suspicion of espionage as he had been using the walkie-talkie to stay in communication with friends during an excursion in Trikomo.

The activist, a car electrician by trade, thought of employing walkie-talkies during the excursion due to problems experienced using mobiles registered in the Republic while in the north.

He told the court he was unaware that the unauthorised use of walkie-talkies is an offence in the north.

Reports had said he was also in possession of a mobile phone, maps, photos, and some audio data, confiscated by police to check whether he had information on military areas in the north.

A military court in the north has been deliberating over his possession of some photos of a military area on his mobile phone.

Soudjis’ lawyer Oncel Polili told the media, “as almost the whole of the north of the island is characterised as a military area, the majority of people living in the north have similar photos on their mobile phones”.

Polili told the court that his client admitted that he took the photos himself and said he had no problem with having them erased from his mobile phone.

The lawyer told the court that his client was forced to leave his village Lysi in northern Famagusta in 1974 as a child and has two daughters, though both adults, they have not seen their father in more than three weeks.

The military detained him for five more days on Thursday until it delivered a spying charge ruling.