Entries in Istanbul (4)


Protests Continue Throughout Turkey

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) -- Protesters continued demonstrations in a number of major cities in Turkey on Sunday, voicing frustration with authoritarianism and urging the government to resign after violence was used on peaceful demonstrators earlier this week.

The protests began after demonstrators protesting the destruction of Istanbul's Gezi Park were confronted with police violence on Friday. Since then, protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have broken out in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Many Turks accuse Erdogan of growing authoritarianism and spearheading Islamization.

Erdogan gave a defiant speech on Saturday in which he said that he could turn out one million people to the streets to defend him and that the true cause of violence was extremists among the protesters.

USA Today reports that over 933 people in 90 separate protests across the nation had been arrested in connection with the protests as of Saturday, but that some had been released.

In addition to the unpopular construction of a mall on the site of Gezi park, Erdogan has also created stringent restrictions on alcohol in the past month. He also recently stated publicly that women should have a minimum of three children, says USA Today.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sarai Sierra Murder Suspect Detained in Turkey

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Police in Turkey have detained a man suspected of killing Sarai Sierra, a New York mother of two who had traveled to the country to practice her photography hobby.

The man was taken into custody Sunday in Istanbul and identified by authorities only as Ziya T. He had reportedly been on the run since Sierra's body was discovered last month.

Sierra, 33, was found bludgeoned to death near a highway in Istanbul on Feb. 2. Her iPhone and iPad, the tools she used to share her photos with her thousands of Instagram followers were reportedly missing.

The Staten Island woman traveled to Turkey alone on Jan. 7 after a friend who was supposed to go with her had to cancel. It was Sierra's first overseas trip, and she kept in contact with her family the entire time, they said, sharing stories of her journey and posting photos online.

She was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was due to board a flight home to New York City.

Sierra had been scheduled to arrive home at Liberty Newark International Airport on Jan. 22. When her husband, Steven Sierra, called the airline, he was told his wife never boarded the flight from Istanbul.

An intense two-week search for for Sarai Sierra ended when her battered body was found.

The motive for the killing is still unknown.

The family of the amateur photographer put her photos up for sale and quickly sold enough photographs to pay for her funeral, Sierra's brother said.

The photos remain on sale and the profits will now be going to her two sons, ages 11 and 9, the family said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Payback? Istanbul Assassination Victims Linked to Moscow Bombing

Vans of the Russian Emergencies Ministry wait outside Moscow's Domodedovo international airport on January 24, 2011, shortly after a suspected suicide bombing. ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- Two of the three suspected Chechen militants gunned down in what appeared to be a professional assassination in Istanbul last week shared a link to one of the deadliest terror attacks in Russian history.

Rustam Altemirov, who Turkish police said was shot by an assailant with a silenced pistol on the street in broad daylight last Friday along with two other men, was charged in absentia in June for his alleged role in the suicide bombing of Moscow's Domodedovo airport in January, according to Russia's state news organization.  The bombing killed 37 people and injured more than 100 more.

Another of the men killed in Istanbul, Berg-Khazh Musavei, was a reportedly "close associate" of Chechen terrorist Doku Umarov, the man who bragged in a video online that he was the one who ordered the Domodedovo bombing as well as an earlier deadly attack on Moscow's subway system.

The third victim in the shooting, Zaurbek Amriyev, has also reportedly been linked to Chechen anti-Russian operations.  All were killed the afternoon of Sept. 16 when the assailant fired 11 shots in less than 30 seconds from a silenced pistol, including several headshots, according to major Turkish news reports.

The Turkish reports said police received a tip Monday as to where the assailant was staying, but arrived just minutes after the killer slipped away.

But the supposed assassin left in such a hurry that his equipment -- including the silenced pistol, a night-vision camera and binoculars -- were left behind, as well as a passport identifying the suspect as a Russian citizen named Zharkov Alexander, the reports said.  Ballistic tests on the gun reportedly showed it was the one that had been used in the triple murder.

A Turkish official told ABC News Wednesday the country's intelligence service was investigating whether Alexander had any connection with the Russian government -- an accusation already leveled by Chechen rights groups and media, who said he was a spy for Russia's intelligence agency, FSB.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in the U.S. said that any implication the Russian government was somehow involved in the killing is "pure speculation having nothing [to do] with reality."

Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and now ABC News consultant, said that whoever the killer is, he appeared to be a professional.

"This clearly looks like an organized kill... it doesn't have any flavor of a street crime," Garrett said.  "The silencer, that even adds to the belief that this was an execution... I would say he's somebody that was sent to do what he did."

As Turkish police continue to investigate the killing and chase down Zharkov, one Russian official involved in the North Caucuses offered a blunt opinion on the assassination to Russia's Izvestia newspaper.

"If those killed were really involved in suicide bombings, then everything that happened is a normal phenomenon in the war," Maxim Shevchenko, head of the working group for the North Caucasus of the Public Chamber, told the paper.  "They've declared war on the Russian state, and it is logical that the security services respond with a group of liquidators and cleansers."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iran Nuclear Talks End Inconclusively

Photo Courtesy - Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- Nuclear talks with Iran ended inconclusively in Istanbul Friday, according to published reports.

At the Turkey-hosted conference, Iran remained adamant that its nuclear program is only intended for energy, and refused to discontinue its atomic facilities. As Iran's uranium enrichment grows more alarming to world leaders, the delegation of diplomats from France, Russia, China, Germany, the U.K, and the U.S. sought an agreement that would prevent Iran from ever creating nuclear weapons.

Talks have yet to be rescheduled.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio