11 more days in jail for peace activist

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Andreas Soudjis, a Greek Cypriot peace activist held in the Turkish-occupied north on suspicion of espionage, will remain in jail for eleven more days after being convicted to one month in prison by a military court.

Turkish Cypriot media outlet YeniDuzen reported on Tuesday that the court found Soudjis guilty of possessing five images of a military area found on his mobile phone.

It sentenced him to 30 days imprisonment, which would predate to the day Soudjis first appeared in court on September 7. He will be released on 7 October.

Andreas Soudjis has been held for more almost a month 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 ordeal had ended last week, when a civil court in Trikomo issued a warning and a suspended his 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.

As reported by YeniDuzen, the presiding judge of the Military Court in Nicosia, Murat Soytac, announced the decision Tuesday afternoon, noting that Soudjis did not act with bad intentions.

Memorabilia

Soytac acknowledged that Soudjis had taken the photos as memorabilia from his visit to the north.

Noting, however, that photographing a restricted military area is a crime punishable with up to five years in prison, Soytac said that a one-month imprisonment would be a fitting penalty in the case.

It not yet clear if the ruling will bar him from visiting the north in the future.

Soudjis, a pro-reunification activist, was arrested on his return at 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 when in some remote areas in the north.

However, Turkish Cypriot authorities had found that Soudjis was also in possession of a mobile phone with five photos from a military area in Trikomo, on which the military court based its conviction.

Human rights groups and Cyprus MEPs had condemned his jailing and called for the immediate release of the bicommunal activist.