US museum curator detained in Turkey says he had permits amid alleged spider smuggling

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Video showed officers searching hand luggage and removing plastic bags that appeared to be packed with dead spiders and scorpions.

İSTANBUL, Türkiye — A curator at the American Museum of Natural History was detained in Istanbul on Monday while allegedly attempting to smuggle spider and scorpion samples, Turkish media reported. The curator said he had permits from the government to conduct his research.

Lorenzo Prendini, an expert on arachnids at the New York-based museum, was held by police at Istanbul Airport while allegedly trying to take about 1,500 samples out of the country, news outlets reported.

The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that Prendini was detained for allegedly attempting to smuggle species found in Turkey.

Video published by the Demiroren News Agency showed officers searching hand luggage and removing plastic bags that appeared to be packed with dead spiders and scorpions.

In emailed comments to The Associated Press, Prendini said the police had disregarded permits from the Turkish government to conduct his research in collaboration with Turkish scientists.

“The police completely ignored this and relied on the testimony of an ‘expert’ who has a conflict of interest with my collaborators … and whose scientific research is highly questionable,” he said.

“The police have completely violated due process and it appears they would like to find me guilty in the court of public opinion.”

The museum’s website lists Prendini as the curator of its spider, scorpion, centipede and millipede collections. It says his research into spiders and scorpions has taken him to more than 30 countries.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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