Who is Jason Dement?

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Born 16 February 1983 in Lumberton, MS.  Graduated Purvis High School in 2001.  Joined US Army in August 2001 and served 6 years overseas.  Currently lives in Germany with his family and works as a civilian on a US Army Military Installation at Katterbach Army Airfield.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Part 2 - The End of a Vacation / The Beginning of a Nightmare [Updated]

Sunday, 14 April 2013 - Part 2
Antalya, Turkey


Once we arrived at the Police Precinct, I was shuffled through their entrance and came face to face with many more police officers.  They were all ordering me to do something different and no one was doing it in English.  They had an xray belt and once again I was being told to put my luggage through it, but wait no, don't do that.  We want you to empty the luggage.  Then someone with higher rank enters the room and wants me to go back to an interrogation room instead.  I sat back in that room in a chair for over an hour answering question that were being asked in Turkish by an uptight angry sounding policeman whose words were being translated by a meek and quiet Securitas Security Guard from the airport who's English was barely passing.  Another officer joined the room and the conversation at one point.  He was younger than the other officers but wore officer rank on his collar resembling that of an Army Major.   He spoke English pretty well, much better than my translator, and he began to talk to me about the offense of taking cultural artifacts from Turkey.  He told me I shouldn't worry about it, it's no big deal.  He said they see it all the time and that they are fully aware of the fact that I didn't realize I was doing anything illegal.  "This will all go smoothly" he said.  He told me I was not under arrest, but they had to take me to a doctor and get my fingerprints and photos taken that night and the next day I would see the Judge.
It all sounded pretty easy.  I thought surely I would be on a plane back to my family the next day.  He did say I would see the judge around 11AM.  But now, it was time to sign papers... stacks of papers I didn't understand, briefly summarized into a sentence or two of English.  Then I was presented with papers to inform my Consulate, or not to inform my Consulate of the situation.  I was told that usually, you inform the consulate if you are arrested, but since I was not arrested, it would probably only make my consulate think I'd done something bad.  So in a way, I was sort of talked into opting out of informing my Consulate.  Remember, I'm being lead to believe that this will all be over the next day.  Why would I want anything to happen that would extend the time it takes to clear this all up?
The next thing that happened:  All of my personal items were taken from me, my phone, wallet, everything in my pockets and inventoried.  They put it in a bag and told me I could have it back the next day.  They almost made me remove my piercings to put in the bag too but an older gentle fellow type policeman who'd sat quiet through all of it voiced his disagreement and ultimately allowing me to retain some dignity.
So I was loaded into a police van outside the precinct and found myself riding alongside two criminals who were handcuffed together.  I have no clue what they'd done.  The rest of the van filled up with policemen and then we were off, headed to some local doctor whom I would later discover, had some kind of contract with the police for fast and easy service. (EDIT: this is a failsafe procedure to prevent Police brutality and to prevent the detained from claiming they were abused by police)  At the rundown, ramshackle doctor's office, all three of us prisoners were lead into an examination room where we were asked if we were feeling ok or if we hurt anywhere.  It was actually one of the other prisoners who translated the questions for me.  Get that. The Cops nor the doctor could (not that I think everyone should be able to speak English, it is just interesting sometimes who can and who can't).  After replying that I was fine, I got a stamp on my paper and we were back in the van.
Our next destination was another Police Precinct somewhere a good ways away.  The parking lot was full of police vehicles and there were some cops walking around with some mean looking firearms shoulder slung with grip in hand.  The cop who escorted me this time was a prick (personal opinion here of someone's personality.  Not a judgement of his job performance).  He didn't tell me where to go, he just did a lot of shoving and pushing.  I was lead inside to sit on some ancient metal bench until the fingerprint guy was ready for me.  The had a roller of black ink and a long table that the ran the roller across several times to make a big black strip.  Then he took each finger from both hands and made two copies of finger print cards.  Back to the bench for me and then eventually into a little corner for mug shots.  Frontal, left and right with the little scale in front of me... the real deal.  I'd been awake for about 20 hours already by then and been through the mill so I'm sure they were amazing mug shots.  Then once again, I had to sit on the metal bench.  The rude annoying cop was sitting close to me and the poor English speaking translator as well.  Must have sucked for him too because at one time during the long wait he asked me "Are you bored?"  Totally caught me off guard.  I told him "No, I'm distressed, tired, upset and miss my family.  You're bored".  He said "A little bit, yes".  Amazing... The annoying, self important cop blabbered on and on talking to some other criminal that was lead in, and later he became obsessed with my American passport, thumbing through it page for page and reading all the quotes, looking at pictures and admiring my visa stamps.  He handled it more than I ever have.  He also got into a sneezing fit and thoroughly contaminated my passport.  I passed out multiple times sitting on that bench, awakened over and over but unable to just stay fully awake.
When finally we left the building and I was shoved back into the van, the other prisoners were no longer there.  Two cops were driving, the translator and I were in the back and then the mean cop climbed in with us.  I didn't have a jacket since they'd taken it from me back at the first precinct and now the door is open wide and cops are just shooting the shit and talking to each other like they hadn't seen each other in years.  I'm now freezing on top of the list of other things that sucked about the night.  Once we drove out of the parking lot and back onto the streets, I quickly began to miss the relative safety of that old metal bench.

So once again I was taken to the same doctor's office.  This time I was his only patient so I had to actually remove my hat and shirt so he had time to check for bruises and such.  Apparently the police cover their asses by making a doctor's visit between every location.  Such a pain but ultimately, a good idea.  The doctors office was in a questionable state of cleanliness and unsettled me.

My next destination was back to the first precinct within airport grounds.  This time there was no shoving me into the building.  I was actually allowed to walk in on my own.  The lobby has a big square coffee table surrounded by couch-like chairs.  All of the couches were full save one and I was invited by the officer to take a seat.  The coffee table was covered in newspapers  and on top of the newspapers were mountains of shells very similar to sunflower seeds.  They picked up and wrapped the newspapers around the discarded shells and sent it off to the trash but quickly placed a fresh layer of newspaper on the table and presented new bags of seeds.  I was told they would bring me some Turkish tea and they also insisted that I try one of their seeds.  Of course I failed miserably at my first attempt ever that I didn't even feel like attempting and they got such amusement from it.  These guys were just sitting around bullshitting, laughing and talking and unfortunately I don't speak Turkish.  I had no idea what was going on.  I told their officer that I needed to contact my family.  I needed to check on them and let them know I was OK.  It was about time I figured that my wife had made her flight safely back to Germany and probably had finished the drive from the airport.  He allowed me to make a call.  First we had to get my phone from the evidence room and I had to fill out papers saying who I was calling.  I was told 10 minutes max and afterwards they would take my phone again.  It was so very hard and emotional.  Sheila had issues back in Germany with her card not reading in the machine so she couldn't pay for parking.  Her SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement [visa to be in Germany]) was in my wallet so she had trouble on arrival and we were emotionally distraught on top of it all.  I had to shortly say good bye though and turn my phone back in.
Next I requested a place to get some sleep.  I was devastatingly tired.  The officer told me that would be no problem but I would meet my lawyer soon.  I had no idea he was coming yet 2 minutes later, a regular looking guy in street clothes came in and they declared this guy was my lawyer and would be representing me at court.  His service was no cost to me as it was provided by the government.  He didn't speak English, at all.  Oh man... could it get any worse.  How was court supposed to go well with this lawyer?  I mean he was a nice guy from what I could tell and it wasn't his responsibility to speak English but I was so worried about how I was supposed to know what was happening in court and how could my lawyer advise me if we couldn't speak?  He gave me his business card and had someone tell me that I could call him if I needed anything..... yeah, right.  I just wanted to go to sleep.  The airport security guard who'd been my "translator" spoke some with me, telling me everything will be ok.  He's sure of it.  He told me he would be with me at the court the next day to be my translator.  I was grateful for his desire to be of help but so very frightened that I would be missing more than half of what I needed to understand.  I was doomed for sure.
The policemen made me change my shoes to my flip flops.  It was either that or remove all the laces from my shoes.  Some sort of protection for them I suppose but still very weird to have me do at this hour.
I was lead to a place to sleep.  Not a comfy cot in a nice room.  No.  I was placed in a holding cell with a security window viewing outside, a camera on the ceiling, a bench-like couch covered in a plastic upholstery and I was given a dirty smelly blanket and pillow (Edit:  The next day, a cleaning lady came through the precinct, they cleaned the cells too and I watched her take the pillow and blanket that I had sweated profusely on and place them back in a locker full of other blankets and pillows).  Also, they would not turn off the fluorescent lights... I was to sleep in a tanning bed.  Once they closed the door, I was locked in.  The only thing I had in my possession was a extra passport photo of Sheila that I'd had in my wallet undisturbed a long time now.  It's the digital age so who needs a real photo right?  Well, at that point in time, I did.  And when I had to turn in all of my personal items, I refused to turn in the photo.  They hadn't pressed me on the subject so there I lay at around 4 am, finally going to sleep, staring at my photo of Sheila.
I awoke an hour later, suffocating from heat.  Someone had turned a heater on for my cell and there was no ventilation.  I banged on the heavy metal door until someone came to let me out and I nearly collapsed in the hallway.  It was SO hot.  The policeman immediately turned the heater off.  This was one of the policemen who'd been kind and gentle to me earlier that night.  I liked him.  I was allowed to go to the restroom where I freshened up at the sink with cold water.  I was soaked to the bone with sweat from the heat.  Afterwards, my exhausted mind and body headed back into the cell to salvage what rest I could from the rest of the morning before my next day started and I would go before court in a foreign land.

To be continued...

79 comments:

  1. It could have been worse........you could have been in a cell with Achmed (Bubba).

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    1. Actually I can relate to what you are going through. I dont know if you remember me and your aunt's car wreck in Cozumel in 2006 where we had to go to the police station and before the Magistrate. Everything was in Spanish without anyone interpeting what was going on. We are keeping you and Sheila in our prayers.

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    2. :) Yeah, I'm certainly happy I didn't have to share with him.

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    3. I never knew about that incident you guys had. I was still a soldier then, probably between changing duty stations. It's a very scary feeling... knowing you're subject to laws you don't even know or understand. Thank you guys for all your support

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  2. Have you tried traveling to Germany by land. Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria all permit US citizens entry without prior visa approvals.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Yes, they do. I drove to Turkey by car from Germany, and when entering or exiting you have to go through customs. There is some paperwork involved. However, I carried some rocks in the car from Bulgaria through Turkey into Greece and back into Bulgaria, but perhaps since I was on a geological excursion, the customs officer did not mind. Plus, there is no way these were from any archeological site, as they were extracted straight from an outcrop. Do you have any pictures of these rock samples? Only if they appear to be "treated" by humans do they have archeological value.

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    3. It's a little late but I forgot to thank you for your comment and the sharing of your experiences. Valuable info.

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  3. I have Posted this in my blog http://peskyapronstrings.wordpress.com/

    And I have messaged my parents who are active in the Veterans Community, Maybe we can see about getting you some information to get some money or get some bureaucratic help or both. Prayers are with you. Stay Strong.

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    1. Britanny, I am humbled and extremely thankful for what you've done. I just want you to know that it means the world to my family and I.

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Thank you so much Jessie! I really hope I can see you guys again soon

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    2. You've been news on most important newspapers. So I guess you will be free very soon. But using Turkey Animal with my flag is extremely rude boy... Silly things happen in your Country too, taking every innocent muslim into custody by fear on 9/11 is a good example.
      We welcome 35 million tourists each year leaving with pleasure. And as this cheap Jessie calls us "Turkeys", you pathetics are welcome "not" to visit here anytime again.

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    3. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog: Let me explain - I loved my visit in Turkey and all of the people were fantastic to me and I enjoyed the rich culture and food. It was a very pleasurable vacation for me before I was caught up in this misfortune. When I created the Stuck in Turkey image, it was not intended to be of offense or to call anyone names. The reason behind it is because I am from a small town in a small state in America and it was a reference to friends and family at home who don't even know Turkey is a country. I was thinking I need to post a facebook status that says I'm stuck in turkey and then I had a mental image of what most of my old folks and family must think when I would say that. It was supposed to be lighthearted humor for my family, not a slander to the Turkish people whom I've truly enjoyed meeting.

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    4. And yet you post your comments and pleas for the world to see... *including the Turkish authorities.
      -You took items for your personal pleasure, to display them in your home for friends and family, depriving the rest of the thousands of future visitors to view the historic scenery. Regardless of how big or small, what others have or have not done… the actual view of the this and other such historically rich countries is; if each person takes a small or large rock, or other item, then there will be even less reason for people (paying tourists) to visit their country.

      Sorry about the language issue, but it is not their first responsibility to provide you with a clean translation. An international traveler such as yourself should know that, unless your view is that Americans are the full superpowers and everyone in the world should appease the American. Americans are not the predominant tourists anymore. Too many financial problems themselves.

      Individual responsibility is at play here. Before traveling into a country, most have reasons to do so and do some research, and review open information. Amazingly enough, you established this blog in record time and your writings are very intelligent. So, I’m surprised you did not review the DoD travel sites, nor the US Embassy in Turkey’s website…. VERY first words being… take nothing but pictures…

      Jason, I’m sorry for the events. However I do not agree with the manner or the purpose of the blog or the form of media attention being pushed. The initial read is that they are picking on you and holding you with no legitimist reason. The law however is the same or similar to many many states and even US territories. Best of luck. If you own the issue upfront, you may be able to speed up the process versus inflaming the persons or culture who is in immediate control.

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    5. This has all been a learning experience for me: It is true that if I had read the US Embassy sites before coming to Turkey and I had searched through their travel suggestions, I would have learned about the seriousness of their laws regarding cultural artifacts. But, I didn't read that website and mistakes are mistakes. I still don't feel like my family or I should be going through all of this because I didn't find that info on the seemingly only source of info out there that tells you about it. My blog will serve to inform many tourists to come about the seriousness of this offense and I hope that it saves many tourists from making the same mistakes.
      I think it needs to be clear that we were on a sunbathing beach in front of a strip of hotels.... the kind you go for a sun and sand vacation / not a sight seeing tour. Gathering stones here is like picking them up from the forest next to your home or something. There's nothing indicating any historic importance. It just so happens that since Turkey has so many historical sites of significance, they have laws like this in place to protect them. In my case, I'd not taken anything of significance. But since people do take things that are important, security is in place for it and then when they look at my harmless stones and decide to check on them with historians - it's highly likely that they can date back to Roman era since the romans built everywhere. My stone could have originated from a goat pen and had been rubble for centuries or moved about over the country for any number of reasons. To us, it was simply a stone with a good form to Write memories or paint decorations on. It was NOT a museum piece that attracts tourists.
      My blog is here to share my intentions and my feelings of helplessness. It's garnered the support that my family needs in these difficult times and without it, I would not have managed to find a lawyer to represent me so that I can go to court and have justice in the Turkish court of law. I simply need people to see that I'm not an international smuggler with criminal intent. That I unknowingly made a mistake and for once in my life, I'm not above asking for help.
      Thanks for sharing your words.

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  5. Jason--you MUST contact the embassy in Ankara.
    http://turkey.usembassy.gov/contactus.html

    American Embassy Ankara
    110 Atatürk Blvd.
    Kavaklıdere, 06100 Ankara - Turkey
    Phone: (90-312) 455-5555
    Fax: (90-312) 467-0019
    e-mail: webmasterankara@state.gov

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    1. They will have lawyers there to help you.

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    2. I contacted them as soon as I was able. They were no help. Someone there translated my court documents... well told me over the phone what it said but it turns out, the translation was improper and has cost me valuable time. The Embassy also shared a link to a list of lawyers on their website. That list hadn't been updated since 2009 and 90% of the numbers were no good. I've recently gotten more help from the Legal Office on the US Military Installation in Incirlik who has meanwhile submitted info to have the embassy lawyer directory updated. Don't count on this embassy for anything... they were even a bit disinterested.

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    3. US Embassy unhelpful NOT EVEN INTERESTED???? THAT is unacceptable. Good gracious!
      I just read your update. One step at a time...glad you got someone to finally translate, properly. You WILL be home soon.

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    4. Since this post, my congressmen and senators have communicated with the US Embassy as well and they called me all throughout the day today with lots of helpful vigor. I'm not sure if my desperate need was apparent when I called them the first time? In any event, they're on my side now and I have spoken to multiple people there now. Thank you once again for your comments.

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  6. Jason,

    I have everyone here praying for you! (this is Church's wife) I have a lot of friends who's parents are important people in dc so I have tried to reach out to them through fb posts. Many people are reposting your story and God willing the right people will see it. I wish there was more I could personally do for you and your family! I cannot imagine what you are all going through. May God be with you!

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    1. Oh wow, thank you so very much. I'm so very happy with all of the support and help that is coming our way. You guys are making this so much easier for my family and we love you all for it.

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  7. A friend from incirlik air base found you an english speaking lawyer free of charge.. how can we get a hold of you??

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    1. That is wonderful and amazing news - I can be contacted by my email address jsundmint@yahoo.com and I can provide phone numbers or call back. Looking forward to hearing from you

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    2. I sent it to her!

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    3. I will monitor my email, I am so thankful for your help!

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    4. No problem, she sent your email address to her lawyer friend.. hope he contacts you asap and you can get home to your family! Sorry all this happened to you!

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  8. I have shared your story on my FaceBook page and you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. It is horrible that you are going through this. My father was in the Army and I was born in Turkey when he was stationed there in the 70s. Always thought one day I would love to see where I was born, he got stationed to Ft Bragg when I was a few months old, but after hearing your story I think I'm happy staying right here at Ft Bragg. I can't send a lot but will send what I can in a few days. God Bless, Cindi

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    1. Cindi, thank you so much for sharing your story and for sharing "mine" on your Facebook. I really enjoyed the 6 days I spent in Turkey before I got into trouble while leaving. I wouldn't avoid the country of your birth because of my story. If you decide to visit one day, you would probably enjoy it but just be sure you don't take any rocks with you.

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  9. We heard your story on wlox... we are praying for you in Gulfport, ms!!! God has got this! Hang in there. HE WILL NEVER LEAVE US NOR FORSAKE US! Melissa

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    1. Dear Melissa,

      Thank you so much for your loving care and concern. My family and I are truly grateful!

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  10. You should always review the laws of the country you plan on visiting. I went to turkey and Jordan over the summer and after a quick search I found that both country's have strict laws about taking relics and what they consider to be relics. Also if you didn't know if you want to extend your stay in turkey a very long time bad mouth attaturk. That will surely get you a more permenant stay in the country. This should be a good warning to the people reading. Always review the laws or at least get a general idea of what will get you in trouble before visiting a foreign country....especially if you don't speak the language.

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    1. This is true - I'm always saying to my wife that you never know what will get you in trouble while you're visiting a foreign country because of possible laws they have that you wouldn't expect. It's been the topic of conversation many times for us. I just was not expecting this to happen over some rocks. I would certainly recommend doing research before vacationing somewhere.

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  11. You tell your story and it is so visual. You should save it all and write a book. I am really sorry that you and your family have to go through something so horrifying as this. I used to live in Ansbach and I remember seeing you and your wife at the gym. My prayers will continue for your safe return to your family.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am very appreciative of your care and concern and touched that your thoughts are with us. I may save the rest of my story for later. I was recently advised that it may be better for me to withhold many of the details since the word has gotten out so far. Now I'm being scrutinized and my phones are probably tapped. I have to be careful that no one take offense and gets vindictive over it all

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  12. Hi Jason - I work at Stars and Stripes in Germany and just got word of your situation. I have forwarded your blog entries to our editor. Do you have an email address?

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    1. Thank you for your message! To avoid getting spam in my main email inbox, I have to give you my address in a funny/unusual way it's jsundmint@googlemail.com but it's not really googlemail, it's Y!

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    2. Okay Jason - thanks very much! Someone will be in touch with you shortly. Take care - good luck!

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  13. This is sicking to me.. Over some rocks.. Jason i am from columbia ms.. I drive through your home town every single day going to work.. My prayers are with you and your family. If there is anything i can do please feel free to contact me. Cowgirl251@ gmail.com
    From your friends back home

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    1. Thank you so much Ashley! Your support and kind words lift the spirit! Be safe back home my friend

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    2. Your so very welcome.. Stay strong in the lord.. For ye is with you my friend. Hope to see you again someday.. Remember plsam 91 i pray this for you and your family.

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  14. Why did you think you could take rocks out of Turkey? Before traveling anywhere you should know their rules and follow them. Behaving like you did is the reason Americans are hated in so many countries. I'm not donating to help you pay for your vacation in a hotel, you should be staying in the hostel for free instead of begging for money. You violated their laws now you need to face your punishment. I'm a military spouse in Germany on my 10th year in Europe and I have never had a problem with any of the many countries we've visited. Of course, I have never violated my host countries rules like you did.

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    1. You don't have to feel sorry for me regardless of what you think about my actions. But you should be ashamed of yourself to treat a fellow member of the military community this way. It's not just about me. There's my wife and my three children who are struggling without me back in Germany. I've been in Europe for over 11 years now and I've never had any problems until this incident. If you're telling me I should face my punishment from slight carelessness of not knowing about the trouble beach rocks could cause me - You're saying you don't care at all if I end up in prison here, lose my job and income, my family lose their home and have no financial support to possibly be moved back to the states where they don't have private school..... etc... just because I can't afford a lawyer without the help of the social community.... You're a strange person. And it's ridiculous to insinuate that I'm on vacation. You really have no idea

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    2. Mrs. Anonymous MILITARY SPOUSE:
      When you married your husband you did not just become HIS spouse, you became a spouse of the military. You are to be held at a higher standard than what you have represented here today. Your disrespect to a FELLOW service member/ veteran is deplorable. In case you have not picked this up in the 10 YEARS you have been a "military spouse'.. you are representing your husband, family, service branch, military as a whole and other spouses. Please stick to the old addage of "if you cant say anything nice keep it to yourself", should you find yourself in another situation like this one. It is very clear to the rest of those who have read this blog and new articles that he was unaware that a simple rock could be some ancient artifact that holds so much importance to Turkey. The fact that he is separated from his family over a simple mistake is something i hope YOU never have to go through ALONE. He is not begging, and there is no shame in his asking for help! I suggest you go and reflect on what it means to be a military spouse and try to conduct yourself in a more appropriate manner next time!

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    3. Hang in there, Jason. You definitely do NOT deserve the pain you and your family are going through. I'm a military spouse who lived in Europe 6 years, and I am appalled that this trenchant cow has seen fit to judge you so harshly. I'll post "Anonymous" just to balance out the negative with something positive.

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    4. :') Thank you so much, that means a lot to us. I don't know where people come across the idea that it's ok to be like that.

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    5. Sorry, I agree with this last anonymous. Overall great story... but some do find parts offensive or insulting. Since this is an open blog, readers have the equal right to comment the opposing view. If that is somehow wrong, than this should stay on private media such as emails or closed facebooks.
      Some find the idea of paying for your hotel, airfare, even fines for your actions inappropriate. You violated their laws. U.S. standard is ignorance of the law is no excuse. Seen plenty of people stuck with that. Yet in your immediately actions you establish a donation method to pay for your expenses, without knowledge of what or how much they will be. Do you intended to return all the extra funds? You've gone public... Great to have friend and family support, but as your story draws worldwide attention, you should equally expect criticism for you actions then and now.

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    6. My blog is open and I do allow anyone to post because I AM being as transparent about this as possible. I am well aware of the fact that some people will have no sympathy for my situation and it won't bother then that my uninformed actions have put us in a position that my family and children could suffer the consequences. You don't see me carrying a banner claiming to be perfect but if you read my blog. If you really look at all the information I provide, you may be able to understand why it was necessary for me to ask for help. It's the first time it's ever happened in my life, that I find myself in a position that I had to ask for help. But I'm here and this is what I'm dealing with. I didn't create this blog to cry in outrage at the unjust laws of another country. In fact, you will find me mention many times that I was unaware of their laws and because of that, I have this to deal with. No other choice but to deal with it. But it was also beyond my financial capability to do so and without help from people who WANT to help, I could find myself without a lawyer and without employment, ultimately without a home for my family and completely ruined. If I had to lose a little pride to ask for help, it is a fair trade. What ever money that is raised and not needed to help my family survive, will go to charity as my supporters decide. The info is all on my blog if you read before judging.

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  15. Oh my goodness...I am APPALLED at the post "Anonymous" just put! I don't even know what to say....maybe, good job for hiding behind your computer and being a TOTAL jerk to someone you've never met, and about something you've never been through because you are so freaking perfect (aparently). ARRGGHH!!
    Anyways, Jason- I am so sorry this happened to you. It was so hard to read the things you went through from a wife's point of view. I would be so upset if that happened to my hubby, and my prayers and support go out to you and your sweet family. I am posting this on my FB wall, and sharing it with my uncle who works in D.C. with some "higher ups". Stay strong, you have a lot of family and others supporting you!

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    1. Heather, thank you so very much for your kind words and your support. The encouragement you guys offer is incredibly appreciate by my wife and I.

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  16. You are an extremely judgemental and rude human being. Please refrain from tarnishing this site's purpose any further. I do not know this young man or his family but we do live in the Katterbach community and are praying there are enough kind people left in this world to help support (whatever way they can be it prayers, legal contacts or $) a fellow American and his family.

    I am still shaking my head at your lack of grace and kindness. I hope you and I never cross paths as you seem to struggle with a toxic personality and outlook on life.



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  17. Just for clarification, the April 18 @ 3:52 p.m. message was in response to Anonymous April 18, 2:28 p.m.

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  18. I just shared your story on my blog so help spread the word of the story and help you in some way. Good luck to you!!! http://neveradulldayinpoland.com/the-end-of-a-vacation-the-beginning-of-a-nightmare/

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    1. Dear Kelley,

      Thank you so much for your support and you well wishes! I've friended you on G+ and hopefully I can catch up after this is all over.

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    2. Sounds like a plan! We are civilians here in Poland at the small base. I have had my shares of unique situations here but nothing to this extreme! Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

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  19. @ Jason do not even respond back and waste your precious time on such an ignorant person such as the Anonymous "military spouse". You continue to do what you are doing and mostly importantly pray! AS for the ignorant Anonymous "Military Spouse", God don't sleep !!! So sad to see such a disgrace among military spouses. Thank goodness that person’s “type” are few and far between! Jason that “person” is very sad and pathetic individual mostly likely suffering from a undiagnosed mental illness. THEY NEED TO SEEK GOD AND HELP… AND MOST importantly THEY NEED TO stay and keep THEIR craziness over in “EUROPE”! Stay strong Jason! Prayers for you and your precious family FROM OCEAN SPRINGS MS

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  20. Amen... That kind of craziness is seen by God.. If that person feels the need to insult someone like that.. They need to go look in the mirrow.. God will indeed pay them back for there dack mind.. Revengece is mine saith thelord.. Jason dont let that discourage you because of there self pity. Stay strong in the lord and he will show you the path you should take... Sheila should be proud to have a wounderful and strong willed man in her life.. Keep in mind that you have people around this world supporting you through this hard time.. Remember the foot prints in the sand.. Jesus carried that man and he will carry you too.. Walk by faith not by sight..

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    1. Thank you Ashley for your kinds words of encouragement and caring!

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  21. Hi Jason--just want you to know that I don't normally like to stir the pot but your situation made me very upset. I have made a lot of noise and written all who I know and all who would listen and all who had an email address I could send your story to. I just want you to know that I am fighting the best way I can for your freedom, fighting for you to be reunited with S and your kids. My children and I are in deep prayer for you and your family and I hope that one day we will meet. We're only a few hours away from you in D-land.
    Oh, and "AnonymousApril 18, 2013 at 2:28 PM" is an EMBARASSMENT. HOW DARE YOU NOT SUPPORT YOUR FELLOW AMERICAN! STUPID COW. That's the PG version of what I'm really thinking.

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I just wanted to take a bit of time and let you know that I really enjoyed your post and it warmed my heart. I am so grateful for you and all that you've done and are doing. I could never repay your kindness as much as I feel it is worth to me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you

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  22. It must be very intimidating and stressful to go through something like this. We all have done something similar: collected rocks at the beach, collected plants to "press" as a reminder of our trip, brought food articles back across borders. We want to "extend" and re-live our vacation and good times by looking at the articles we collected while we were on vacation. It is unfortunate that you were one of those people that they zeroed in on. I am Turkish, I live in Germany, we go on vacation to Turkey 2-3 times a year. My hobby is to collect rocks from each one of the places I visit. I have rocks from Israel, Morocco, England, Italy, Malta, Sicily, France, Portugal and Spain, and of course from Turkey. I always have the rocks I collected in my carry-on bag, so I can show and declare them. I don't know if having the rocks in your suitcase got the authorities thinking. One never knows what moves the authorities any given time. I wish there was a person that they would have to contact when a foreigner to our country is detained. Somebody that speaks the language, explains the routine to you, advises you of your rights and obligations. I think it is lack of protocol to detain a foreigner without explaining to them what the procedure is. There should be a lawyer on call with the ability to communicate with you about the charges and the procedures. You should have the right to a phone call, if nothing else, for courtesy and for good relations between our countries. After all, Turkey is a Nato member country, and you are under the Nato Status of Forces agreement. Why hasn't the United States Government put a routine for it's citizens to follow when and if they are faced with these kinds of problems? It would be helpful if a written SOP would be issued to each individual who travels to foreign destinations. It would be helpful if the current and updated telephone numbers of the consulates and emergency contacts are listed on this SOP. We purchase all sorts of travel guides to find out what to see, what to visit, where to eat, what to shop for. I think it would be just as important that each person also have a travel SOP before embarking on a trip. I hope that your translator and appointed lawyer will be able to get you the assistance you need and you will be back home with your family before you know it. It is unfortunate that your travel to Turkey will forever be marred by this incident. But through you, we all are learning a lesson. I myself will think twice from now on when collecting rocks to bring back as reminders of my vacation. I will send myself postcards!!

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    1. Thank you so much for your post. I relate to everything in your post and I completely agree with you on all of the great ideas that would have made this situation so much easier. I think it would be very effective to have large visual warnings and "need to know" posters or signs that would get your attention in the arrival terminal so that you would enter the country know what you should avoid. I'm told this sort of case comes up all the time. I believe the legislation was to protect the countries historical artifacts from being stolen away by real smugglers with a mission to do so. These warning systems would help to keep innocent well-meaning travelers from getting caught up in the whole ordeal. We travel a lot and I'm always saying to my wife that you never know what kind of crazy [unusual] laws a country may have that you could find yourself violating and that has always scared me. I never would have guessed that it would hit so close to home with me just because of my habit of picking up stones as keepsakes from our travels - the very intentions you spoke of. I will also be thinking of postcards in the future. Thank you again for you lovely post

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    2. Just let us know when you get back to Germany (Ansbach is it?) My husband is stationed in Schweinfurt at the moment, but is hoping to get a transfer to Ansbach for the next school year.. Who knows, we could meet in the future and swap scary travel stories. We have one of Bulgaria. We used to drive from Germany to Istanbul before the Kosovo war. We had our three daughters and our 5 dogs with us. We all had Bulgarian visas and all our dogs had international shot records that were up-to-date. These were the years before the "iron-curtain" came down. The Bulgarian border police demanded that we show "visa application" for our dogs. We were confused. Visa for the dogs? We insisted that we have international shot records, which were checked by the border "vet?" - a person in a white coat, could have been a cleaning lady for all we know. But no one spoke English or German or Italian or Turkish, all the languages I can speak. The Bulgarian border guard had all 5 of our passports in his hand, and refused to hand it back to us. So we asked if we could get the visa for the dogs right at the border, and how much would it cost. Make the long story short, we paid 40 DM's for the "dog visa" to be able to get our passports that were being held ransom in his hand. The shot records or the passports were not stamped, neither did a receipt was issued in exchange for the "visa" fee. We have many stories like this, since we have traveled to Istanbul every summer since 1978. Let us know how you are doing, send updates. Hope you get back home soon.

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    3. Wow, such incredible stories out there (I heard some in person from a local today). I would welcome the chance to meet once I am back in Germany. I think it would be nice for us all. I have lots of people to meet and thank when I make it back. I'm humbled by it and also daunted. I'm not sure how I'll ever show you all how much it means to me.

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  24. "AnonymousApril 19, 2013 at 5:45 PM"? Seriously? Turkey is a wonderful country with great people. Their antiquities have been pillaged by many and they want to make it stop. They have a wonderful culture and rich history. Jason's actions were an innocent accident. Insulting other countries is what gets us labeled as ugly Americans. God Speed jason, hang in there. We are rooting for you in Ansbach!

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    1. Totally agree with you. I removed the offending comment. Turkey is truly a beautiful and culture rich country. The more I learn about it, the more I like it. It's just unfortunate that a law they have in place to protect their cultural history has affected an innocent hobby of collecting stones. I full well understand the necessity of their law considering incidents of cultural theft en-mass in the past. I just wish I had known about it and that what I did would place me in this situation. I believe the judge and the people of Turkey will understand and acknowledge that I had no intent to commit a crime and I will be allowed to return to my family in due time. That combined with the love and support and the financial donations that have helped me afford my lawyer and all of these extra expenses have me settled with a positive outlook.

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  25. Prayers from Baxterville, Ms have been going up for you Jason. Keep the faith and stay strong. I am Rhonda Parker, Rusty Parker's wife. Praying for you.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. It warms the heart to have your support!

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  26. I have read the great majority of your blog from the beginning. Some of it should have remained in private settings. I am glad you modified your stance from the onset and changed the title of the blog. You did an excellent job describing what your lawyer explained to you. You later gave credit to the original Judge for not placing you in jail upfront. I’ve read it. I see many people talking about getting senior persons involved on your behalf, news media, etc. Yet from someone who has lived more than 35 years outside the US, I’m bothered with the general theme, deflection of some aspects of responsibility and especially the lack of understanding from many supporters who fail to realize the possible affects and consequence you may still face as a result of their comments, AS YOU remain in Turkey. The comments are meant to help keep you safe, remain focused, and not to piss you off. Best of luck.

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    1. Thank you very much for your post and I do fully comprehend your meaning and intentions in writing it. I usually try to respond to comments that can be misleading and I try to make it clear that I harbor no resentment to the country or its people. You've pointed out many instances of it. The blog does evolve and I try to be as transparent as possible about the whole ordeal.
      Many people/most people do not know or understand the process of how these things work and how interactions with foreign governments go. Many will say things that are out of the ball park. I think the important thing is always "What I say. The words that I post in response to that statements or what's found in my blog written by me." Anyone who wanted to scrutinize my claims and writings are free to read it all and I think generally they would have to see that I have an appreciation for Turkey and it's people and have only been unfortunate enough to be caught in a scary situation that I didn't understand. What are your thoughts on that?

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  27. For those of you who have negative things to say about him asking for help, his family and friends back home are happy he has set this up since we are feeling otherwise helpless in this situation.
    Jason, Before this happened Dewyatt and I had just had a conversation about the pictures you are always posting from your travels. I enjoy getting to see your pictures from places we will probably never see any other way. Please know that we are thinking about and praying for you and Sheila constantly. We have shared your story with everyone we can and will continue to do so. Hope to hear that you are safely home very soon!!

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    1. Thank you so much Mandy. I may not feel like traveling for a little while after this but eventually I will get back to seeing the world. I will work harder to educate myself about laws before visiting somewhere new but I wouldn't stop traveling not would I bar beautiful Turkey from my locations to visit because of this incident. It just so happens that I landed in a scary situation that could have been a lot more serious than it is.

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  28. Man is not, by nature, deserving of all that he wants. When we think that we are automatically entitled to something, that is when we start walking all over others to get it. Stealing is stealing wether it be the castle or the grain of sand it took to build it

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    1. I have my comments set to Moderation so I actually had to approve this before it would show up on my blog. That being said, I HAD to approve it. It's just so laughable what you've written, like you're a prophet or something. I don't believe that neither I or my actions have made any kind of statement that declares "I deserve all that I want". Also, the earth belongs to the earth. You can pick up a stone from one region of the world and take it to another and whether you put it back on the ground or in your house, it's still a piece of the earth and belongs to the earth. I didn't have to walk on anyone to pick up these stones from the beach and I certainly didn't have to storm a castle for it. So if you picked up a rock from the other side of the street and tossed it into your yard, you stole it? That's some ridiculous preaching right there. I can't believe you took the time to become a blogger just so you could write that.

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