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Turkey re-arrest Syrian singer Souleyman hours after his release

Published: Updated:

Celebrated Syrian singer Omar Souleyman was brought back to a detention center on Friday in southeast Turkey just hours after his official release earlier in the day, his lawyer and manager told AFP.

The lawyer and manager said local officials in Sanliurfa province ordered Souleyman’s release on Friday morning but needed the approval of the interior ministry.

“The governorate decided to release him and told the family,” his lawyer Resit Tuna told AFP, adding: “But they needed the approval of the interior ministry and it didn’t come.”

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Souleyman’s return to a detention center in Harran district in Sanliurfa was confirmed by his manager, who said he hoped the singer would be released on Saturday morning.

Earlier on Friday, his lawyer said the singer was released at “10am (0700 GMT)” and he was due to return to Akcakale in Sanliurfa, where he lives.

Souleyman was detained on Wednesday in the southern Turkish city of Sanliurfa, where he has been running a bakery since escaping Syria’s civil war which began in 2011.

Police questioned Souleyman over reported claims he had ties to the People’s Protection Units, which Turkey says is the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies, has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
Souleyman was accused of “terrorist propaganda.”

He was in custody for 24 hours at a police station in Sanliurfa, a province 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Syrian border, before being taken on Thursday to a shelter serving as a detention centre for people due to be deported from Turkey, the singer’s lawyer said.

Souleyman has won international recognition for his melodic mix of dance and folk music, collaborating with artists such as Bjork and the Blur’s frontman Damon Albarn.

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