Revelations in Turkish media over an illegal child adoption scheme implicating American staff at the Incirlik air base in Turkey's Adana province has prompted a public inquiry.
The Chief Prosecutor of Turkey’s southeastern Adana province has launched a public inquiry after allegations that American soldiers stationed at the US air base in Incirlik illegally adopted Turkish children from local families.
Allegations of the illegal adoptions surfaced when two sisters, Hatice Berberoglu and Secil Berberoglu, claimed on a reality television show on Turkey’s privately-owned ATV that their families “sold” them to two American soldiers at the base when they were children.
The two sisters allege that they were adopted separately – the former having been adopted when she was three and the latter when she was seven -– and then taken to the US under different names.
After finding each other in the US, the sisters returned to Turkey where they were reunited with their biological family in Adana, the Ihlas news agency reported.
The report added that many more local children may have been adopted and taken out of the country under similar circumstances.
Hatice, who was renamed Michelle Salery, said she and Secil, who was given the name Britanny Louisse Quillen, are still searching for two of their brothers who were also sold off by their late father as children.
The revelations prompted others to come forward, with Adana local Mahmut Acar telling CNN Turk that he was also approached by Americans based in Incirlik attempting to buy his daughter.
“They wanted my daughter but I didn’t give her to them,” Acar said, adding that many locals, however, did give their children away.
“Somebody I know gave both his daughter and his son to the Americans,” he said.
“They wanted to buy children from their families in exchange for money as if they were going grocery shopping,” Acar told CNN Turk.
Another local, 65-year-old former taxi driver Ali Aslan, told CNN Turk that one American woman, who knew Incirlik and the locally hired staff at the air base well, would target local families who were struggling financially.
Following the reports, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Adana released a statement acknowledging the allegations of US soldiers working at the Incirlik base “adopting a number of babies in exchange for money and taking them outside of the country between the 1980s and 1990s.”
The statement, released on January 10, added that the Prosecutor’s Office has sent a directive to the province’s police department requesting an investigation be launched into the alleged offenses, which include official document fraud, human trafficking and corruption of lineage.
The directive also requests that those found to be involved in the buying and selling of children be identified as suspects and tried for the aforementioned crimes, the Prosecutor’s Office said.