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Cablegate: Not New, Just Reheated: An Update On Charges

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RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #0773 2361356
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241356Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7438
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000773

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL TU GR
SUBJECT: NOT NEW, JUST REHEATED: AN UPDATE ON CHARGES
AGAINST THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH

REF: A. ISTANBUL 664

B. ISTANBUL 638
C. ISTANBUL 607
D. ISTANBUL 550

Sensitive but Unclassified, Please Protect Accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary. Following recent Greek and Turkish press
reports that an Istanbul prosecutor subpoenaed Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholemeos, the Patriarch,s attorney Kezban
Hatemi told us that new prosecutorial staff had mistakenly
issued the subpoena when they overlooked the Patriarch,s
prior written statement in the same case. Hatemi is trying
to resolve this issue quietly. This controversy illustrates
how the Turkish legal system can be used for intra-orthodox
battles. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Several Greek media sources, as well as Turkish
newspapers Yenicag and Sabah, recently reported that Beyoglu
Public Prosecutor Ahmet Cakar subpoenaed Ecumenical Patriarch
(EP) Bartholemeos in connection with statements he made at
the 2nd International Orthodox Youth Conference on July 12,
2007. The charges under investigation were filed by Bojidar
Cipov, a Bulgarian Orthodox priest who was defrocked by the
EP in 2002 on the grounds of disobedience. Cipov's 2003
lawsuit challenging the EP's ability to remove him from
clerical office was the subject of the Yargitay case (reftel
D) in which the Yargitay commented that the EP was not
"ecumenical" in nature. In the case at hand, Cipov filed
charges with the Beyoglu prosecutor's office alleging the EP
to have "misused his religious services," as stipulated in
Turkish Penal Code Article 219 when he said "Our Patriarchate
has been ecumenical since the 6th century. This is a
historical title and the entire world recognizes it." Cipov
has filed several other cases, alleging the EP "misused his
religious services," and attempting to block actions by the
Ecumenical Patriarchate, including the July 7-10 Holy Synod.
Cipov has since filed another complaint in relation to a
planned August 27-29 Holy Synod meeting.

3. (SBU) While Kezban Hatemi, the Patriarchate's lawyer,
acknowledged that the Beyoglu Prosecutor had contacted the
Patriarchate, she dismissed the case as an old story that the
press was trying to "re-heat". She told us "this is not a
new issue, and it is not a big deal." She said that the
previous prosecutor had accepted the written statement she
sent regarding this issue, but that the new prosecutor was
unaware of this exchange. (August is typically a period of
significant personnel upheaval in the Turkish bureaucracy as
civil servants adjust to arrival and departures caused by
their summer transfer season.) Hatemi wants to handle the
issue quietly and to avoid having the EP travel to the
Prosecutor's office.

4. (SBU) Comment: Turkish judicial officials are required
by law to investigate any charges brought to them, resulting
in a proliferation of nuisance lawsuits brought by 'concerned
citizens' against prominent figures. Article 301 cases
brought against well-known writers and intellectuals are the
best example of this situation. Cipov's objection to His All
Holiness's ecumenical nature was the core of the
"disobedience" for which he was defrocked several years ago.
He now appears to have found a venue for airing his
grievances in public -- the Turkish court system. End
comment.
WIENER

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