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Wife of White Helmets founder ‘barred from leaving Turkey’ amid death probe

James Le Mesurier was found dead outside his Istanbul home on November 11.

James Le Mersurier
James Le Mersurier
Image: PA

AUTHORITIES HAVE BARRED the wife of a former British army officer who founded the White Helmets volunteer group from leaving Turkey, pending the investigation into his death, according to reports.

Turkey’s state-run news agency reported that James Le Mesurier’s Swedish wife, Emma Winberg, was questioned by police yesterday.

Authorities imposed the travel ban in case she needs to be questioned again, according to Anadolu Agency.

Le Mesurier was found dead outside his Istanbul home on November 11 (Monday). Police believe he fell to his death and are investigating the circumstances.

The private DHA news agency said police were examining the couple’s electronic devices.

Last week a top Russian official had alleged Le Mesurier was a spy – a claim Britain strongly denies.

His body was flown to London on Wednesday.

Le Mesurier told Al Jazeera in 2015 that he had begun training and supporting the organisation in early 2013 alongside Turkish rescue experts, starting with “a single team of 20 people”.

“I was working in Istanbul … and got together with a group of Turkish earthquake rescue volunteers,” he said.

The White Helmets quickly expanded, and are credited with saving tens of thousands of lives during Syria’s conflict.

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The White Helmets have become a favourite target of pro-Syrian and pro-Russian groups. They have accused the group of supporting terrorists in Syria and doctoring footage of atrocities committed by regime forces — claims strongly denied by its supporters.

A documentary about the group won an Academy Award in 2017.

- Additional reporting © AFP 2019  

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