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Is it legal for the authorities in the Republic of Northern Cyprus to keep my passport? I’m in Northern Cyprus and the police have taken my passport from me because of a personal dispute with a friend over money. I am an American citizen.

  • 4
    It's not legal, but they are the police, so they can do what they want. – Aganju May 13 '18 at 14:46
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    @Aganju whose law does it violate? – phoog May 13 '18 at 15:25
  • Northern Cyprus is not alone in having laws which require visitors to show or temporarily hand over id documents to the authorities on demand. So the first question would be if this was legal according to Northern Cyprus law. The next question might be to find out if you can get a replacement passport. The US has no embassy because of the diplomatic status of North Cyprus, but it seems there is some sort of office. – o.m. May 13 '18 at 19:31
  • Is your friend American? Is hir residence in the US? Near you? Does this involve people you "only know online"? Do you know the difference between a criminal and civil matter and if so, which is this ? – Harper May 13 '18 at 19:59
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    @Aganju We don't know the meaning of "a personal dispute with a friend over money", could be a fight, could be an accusation of theft. If the police suspects a person of a crime, it is perfectly legal to stop them from absconding. – gnasher729 May 13 '18 at 21:06
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The police can take action to prevent you from fleeing if you are suspected of a crime. With Cyprus being an island, taking your passport away is a simple way to keep anyone but the most determined criminal from leaving, without inconveniencing you too much. You will get your passport back, either when any misunderstanding is cleared up, or when you leave jail (we don't know the details of this "personal dispute about money").

Being an American citizen doesn't actually make any difference. Even if the USA had a diplomatic presence in Northern Cyprus, which they don't, there's not much they can do or could do or would want to do to help if the police is after you.

  • 1
    @user71659 if the embassies routinely reissue passports, then the foreign judges will jail Americans while awaiting trial because of the obvious flight risk. – SJuan76 May 13 '18 at 20:31
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    Just for completeness: While the US embassy in cyprus doesn't write anything about this situation, the one in my country does. Lists of passports that the local police holds of their citizens are visible to the embassy. While it still does not prevent reissuing it, the police is notified of it too, and then the person is arrested pretty soon after leaving the embassy ... In short, the embassy has no problems with helping getting you arrested, and they are pretty open about it. – deviantfan May 13 '18 at 21:16
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    @user71695 I'm pretty sure US law provides for replacement of lost our stolen passports, requiring a police report in sport of the claim of loss or theft. If the police have taken the passport, they won't issue a report of loss or theft. – phoog May 13 '18 at 21:17
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    @phoog No. You would have to report the passport as confiscated otherwise it would be perjury. Unfortunately, the policy about confiscated passports is not public (see 7 FAM 1317). Note however, the Department of State does not even recognize the ability of domestic civil courts to withhold passports (last section). – user71659 May 13 '18 at 21:34
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    What if someone has a duplicate passport, and the police hold one of the two passports, and the person attempts to leave using the other one? – gparyani May 14 '18 at 0:11

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