Eight years after he was detained and charged with aiding a terrorist group, U.S. citizen Jake Richard Hess remains unreachable for a Turkish court seeking to summon him. The United States' reluctance to locate him is seen as a reason for Hess' escape from Turkish justice, with only two years left on a statute of limitations that will end the trial.
Hess was detained in the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakır in 2010. He was working as an English teacher and a freelance journalist when he was detained on charges of aiding a terrorist group in reference to the PKK. Prosecutors asked for 15 years in prison for him while the local court ordered his release pending trial and deportation. He never showed up during the 20 hearings of the trial. In 17 hearings, the Third High Criminal Court trying him formally, requested the U.S. mission in Turkey to provide information on Hess' whereabouts and to send a written testimony of the suspect. U.S. authorities failed to respond to inquiries by the court while Hess, believed to be in Boston, often changed addresses during that period. He now has two more years before the statute of limitations comes into force, practically rendering him free.
The PKK, which started a campaign of terror in southeastern Turkey in the 1980s, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States. The United States, however, openly supports the People's Protection Units (YPG), a PKK-affiliated group in Syria that has U.S. nationals fighting in its ranks.
Turkey and the United States are currently at odds over another U.S. national, pastor Andrew Craig Brunson. Like Hess, Brunson is accused of having links with the PKK and was arrested in 2016. The United States imposed sanctions on Turkey over Brunson's arrest which was later commuted to house arrest.
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