Assyrian priest suspected of 'terrorism' to go on trial on 3 November
by Marian Demir

Fr Sefer Bileçen insists that he simply gave food to people who asked for it, not knowing that they belonged to the PKK. The court decided to ban journalists from the next court hearing.

Mardin (AsiaNews) – The trial of an Assyrian priest, Fr Sefer (Aho) Bileçen, has been postponed to next 3 November. The clergyman stands accused of "terrorism".

Fr Sefer (Aho) Bileçen has always defended himself by saying that he only gave food to people who came to visit him.

He works at the Mor Yakup (Saint James) Monastery. Built about 1,500 years ago, the religious site is located in Mardin, Nusaybin district, south-eastern Turkey, on the border with Syria.

Fr Sefer was arrested on 10 January, but released four days later thanks to the pressure of public opinion.

According to the indictment, dated 16 January, the priest is guilty of "belonging to an organisation," the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a Kurdish terrorist group.

For his part, Fr Sefer has always insisted that he did not know the people who came to him asking for food. He says that he did not know they were "members of an organisation", explaining that he simply gave them bread out of Christian charity.

The court ruled that journalists will not be allowed to attend the hearing on 3 November.