Natural History Curator Cleared Of Spider- and Scorpion-Smuggling In Turkey


A Turkish judge cleared the American Museum of Natural History curator who was arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle spider and scorpion samples from Istanbul. He was released from custody after spending a night in jail.

“I was completely cleared of all charges by a Turkish judge and released. I do not wish to comment further at this time,” Lorenzo Prendini wrote in an email to Artnet News.

The arachnid expert was held by police at the Istanbul Airport for trying to take roughly 1,500 endemic samples out of the country. Prendini said he had government permits to conduct research in collaboration with Turkish scientists, which were disregarded by the police

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

DNA extracted from the species Prendini sampled could have been used to synthesize expensive medication, according to the local media.

Prendini is the curator of AMNH’s spider, scorpion, centipede, and millipede collections.



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