UPDATE: The Foreign Desk has learned Byle has been released and is back home in Turkey with his family after the judge canceled the detention order, according to family members.
An American evangelist has been detained without charges in Turkey after authorities there declared him “a danger to public order.”
David Byle, 46, was taken into custody by Turkish authorities April 6, when he was told to visit Turkey’s immigration office to inquire about why his residency permit application had been denied.
Byle was subsequently arrested and ordered to 30 days’ incarceration with no charges ahead of deportation, sources told Morning Star News.
Turkey’s government filed a “no-reentry order” for Byle, who is currently awaiting deportation at a holding center for foreigners.
Authorities told Byle, one of a small number of Christians in Turkey, that he could be held for a month without any charges filed against him because of the danger the Turkish government believed he posed.
“I feel it’s funny,” Byle’s wife, Ulrike said to Morning Star News.
“I think the reason he is being held is because of his evangelistic activities,” she added.
Byle, who has had several encounters with Turkish authorities, was arrested and charged with “forceful missionary activity” and disturbing the peace in April 2007 in Istanbul’s Beyoglu District after police received complaints about aggressive evangelism.
The first charge filed in 2007 was dropped less than a month later, and the second charge was dropped after six months.
Byle co-founded the Bible Correspondence Course in Turkey (BCC-Turkey) in 2009 which conducts “street evangelism” programs that the Turkish government has often viewed as Christian missionary activity and considered a security threat.
He was arrested again November 18, 2009 in Istanbul’s Pendik District with a few other members of the BCC and was released after giving a written statement of his actions leading up to the arrest.
Byle was battling Turkey’s government over residency issues for five years until a court ruled that not enough evidence was presented to support that he was guilty of any criminal activity or that he was “a threat to national security and public morals.”