NEWS

German cycling tourist was no spy, court finds

A court on the eastern Aegean island of Chios has freed a German tourist arrested nine months ago for taking photographs near a military airport and held ever since on espionage charges. Murat Mehmet Pekinel, 55, was arrested on the island of Lemnos on September 20 during a three-month cycling tour of the heavily militarized northeastern Aegean islands. Pekinel, who is of Turkish descent but has lived in Germany since the age of 18, was found to have taken over 1,500 pictures of island scenery, about 140 of which were deemed to be of military value, although no military installations were directly pictured. During Friday’s trial, the court heard that there were no signs banning photography in the areas where the offending photos were taken, while many shots were of beaches that appear in tourist brochures. The court awarded Pekinel – a brother of internationally acclaimed pianists Suher and Guher Pekinel – 15 euros compensation for each of the 258 days he spent in pretrial detention, a total of 3,870 euros. The prosecution had sought to block any compensation payment.