A court in Turkey has charged Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, will illegally filming at orphanages in the country for use in a documentary that appeared on Britain’s ITV network.
Specifically, the court charged her of violating the law in acquiring footage and violating privacy of five children.
The Duchess and her daughter Princess Eugenie visited the orphanages in Ankara and Istanbul in 2008. She reportedly wore a disguise to enter the state-run orphanages and filmed children restricted to their beds and left their all day.
British TV presenter Chris Rogers who travelled with the Duchess to Turkey that year later told UK media: “Sarah and I witnessed children dressed in rags at Turkey's Saray Institution, which had 700 unwanted, disabled youngsters shut up within its walls. There was a terrible stench of urine, sweat and vomit. We saw children tied to benches like dogs, women with their arms pinned behind their back and covered in feces.”
ITV also defended the Duchess.
“This is a valid area of public interest at a time when the UK government is endorsing the accession of Turkey into the EU, a process which is conditional in part on Turkey improving its human rights record with children,” a spokesman said at the time of the broadcast.
When the documentary, called ‘Duchess and Daughters: Their Secret Mission’ was broadcast three years ago, it caused a war of words between London and Ankara.
She was accused of waging a smear campaign against Turkey, which is seeking to enter the European Union (EU).
Nimet Cubukcu, Turkey’s minister in charge of family affairs, said tight after the broadcast: “It is obvious that Sarah Ferguson is ill-intentioned and is trying to launch a smearing campaign against Turkey by opposing Turkey's EU membership.”
In response, the Duchess noted that she is apolitical and also took similar damaging footage of orphanages in Romania
However, it is unclear if the court in Turkey has any real authority to charge the British royal. It is also unknown why it took Ankara more than three years to file the charges.
Theoretically, if convicted, she could make at least 22 years in prison.
The project ultimately turned acrimonious over a dispute arising from the book of the controversial trip for the documentary.
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