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U.S. Tourist Detained for Smuggling of Beach Rocks

Travelers Today       By    Maxine Wally

Updated: Apr 17, 2013 04:58 PM EDT

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Tourist Jason Dement of Mississippi was detained in Turkey and now faces a trial for collecting stones during his beach vacation.

After six days on holiday, Dement traveled to the airport in Ankara, Turkey to return to the U.S.

While on the Turkish beaches, he and his wife Sheila picked up stones they found there as commemorative pieces.

"We have made it a point to collect some rocks and/or sand from every country we go to," Dement wrote in the blog he started in light of his detainment.

Security noticed the rocks in Dement's bag, and swiftly confiscated what they told Dement were historical artifacts.

"The girl doing the translating told me that they would be sending the stones to a local museum historian to verify whether or not they were indeed historical artifacts," he wrote.

One stone, the Associated Press reports, was a triangle made of rough marble, which resembled materials of a modern building. The other piece was 5 inches long, slanted, and red-it looked like it had been washed up and down the shore for years.

"It had no inscription," Dement told AP. "It came from an ordinary beach. There were no historical sites around, no ancient ruins."

Dement was taken from the security line at Antalya Airport and immediately detained. He was released from court Monday, but was given a travel ban. He is no longer allowed to leave Turkey until the investigation is complete.

Dement's lawyer Fatma Zuhre Akinci said that the 30 year-old from Purvis, Mississippi faces a heavy Turksih law against artifact smuggling.

Akinci later commented that a museum report confirmed the pieces were, indeed, artifacts.

Dement is a former soldier, now an employee at the Katterback U.S. Army base in Germany. His wife was not detained and boarded her plane for Germany with no setbacks.

Dement faces up to 12 years in prison for his alleged smuggling. 

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