Bob Dole thanks Armenian president for Turkish scholar’s release

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Bob Dole, a former U.S. senator known for his pro-Armenian views, has welcomed the release of a Turkish scholar who was controversially detained in Armenia two months ago, it emerged on Wednesday. “I want to express my sincere gratitude to you and the people of Armenia in the wake of the recent release of Yektan Turkyilmaz, the Duke University graduate student detained since June 17,” Dole said in a letter to President Robert Kocharian, a copy of which was obtained by RFE/RL.

“Yektan's release symbolizes a crucial step in Armenia's commitment to democracy,” Dole said. “Thank you for your encouraging leadership in this important matter.”

The positive tone of the letter dated August 17 contrasts sharply with another message which the former U.S. legislator and presidential candidate sent to Kocharian on August 2. “I urge you to investigate the actions of your government, prosecutors and police and release Yektan at once,” he said.

“Your detention of Yektan for seven weeks on any grounds would draw attention to failings in Armenia's democratic evolution. To detain him on grounds as dubious as these calls into question Armenia's commitment to democracy in the first place,” Dole warned.

It is not clear if Kocharian responded to Dole’s first letter. The Armenian leader’s press secretary could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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