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Turkey releases French-Jewish man imprisoned on drug charges to France

Fabien Azoulay, a French Jewish gay man serving a prison sentence in Turkey for drug offenses. (Courtesy of the Azoulay family via JTA)
Fabien Azoulay, a French Jewish gay man serving a prison sentence in Turkey for drug offenses. (Courtesy of the Azoulay family via JTA)

JTA — Turkish authorities have released and repatriated a French-Jewish man who had been serving a 16-year prison sentence in Turkey for buying a small amount of drugs.

Fabien Azoulay, 43, lands in France today after four years in prison in Turkey, his lawyers write on Twitter.

Azoulay, who came to Istanbul in 2017 for hair implants, went online to order a substance called GBL — a party drug popular in French nightclubs.

GBL was legal in Turkey until being outlawed six months before Azoulay purchased it with his credit card. Azoulay claimed he did not know he was breaking Turkish law.

According to LCI Radio, Azoulay is being transferred to France as a prisoner, supposedly to carry out the remainder of his sentence there. However, French authorities have no intention of holding him, as his actions do not violate French law.

French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly intervened on Azoulay’s behalf, asking high-ranking Turkish officials to release him.

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