Antwerp couple arrested in Turkey for 'smuggling archaeological artefacts'

A couple from Antwerp have been arrested after trying to bring back stones as souvenirs from their holiday in Turkey, Flemish public broadcaster VRT reports. The couple were taken into custody as their actions were considered an attempt to "smuggle archaeological artefacts".

The pair, Kim and Warre, were detained on Saturday as they were due to leave for Belgium. "We were singled out at airport security," Warre told Radio 2. "A woman came up to us and asked if we had salt or minerals with us. I said no but said there were a number of stones in our suitcase. We often take them with us as decoration for my aquarium." The couple were taken to a police station in the airport and later transferred to another police station.

Not allowed to leave

"The next day, my girlfriend appeared before a magistrate," he said. "I don't know why she had to appear and not me or both of us, but she has been prevented from leaving the country. She has been charged with smuggling three archaeological stones."

"A woman came up to us and asked if we had salt or minerals with us. I said no but said there were a number of stones in our suitcase"

The couple remain in Turkey, claiming they didn't know the stones might have archaeological value. "We found one of them in an alley full of rubbish," Warre said. "The other two stones were like pieces of marble with a sparkle in them, we found them on the beach."

'Strictly prohibited'

"We never thought that the stones belonged to a museum, as they now claim. In fact, we didn't visit any museums. We flew to Antalya, but we've not actually visited the city. It's not like we've taken a piece of the temple, these are just small stones."

The size of the stones does not determine their legal status. The Belgian foreign ministry's website warns that in Turkey it is "strictly prohibited to export antiquities, minerals or objects found on site (stones for example), even if they do not appear to have any cultural-historical value”.



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