President Gül intervenes to save Turk in Saudi Arabia

ANKARA - President Abdullah Gül has joined in the efforts to save Turkish barber Sabri Bogday from execution in Saudi Arabia.

Gül wrote a letter to Saudi King Abdullah and requested a pardon for Bogday. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdodan also said that he contacted Saudi officials to spare Bodday's life.

Bogday had moved to the Saudi city of Jeddah from the southeastern Turkish province of Hatay, and was running a barbershop. He was arrested by Saudi officials after being accused by his Egyptian neighbor, a tailor with whom he had a brawl, of "cursing the name of Allah." Saudi authorities condemned him to death, and an appeal case is in progress. Bogday's family demanded that the president and prime minister intervene to prevent the execution.

The president's chief press advisor, Ahmet Sever, said Gül had penned a letter addressing King Abdullah. The letter was delivered to Abdullah, Sever said, and added that deliberations continued at the top level to avert the execution. Sever reported that Gül emphasized the unfairness of the accusation against Bogday, and stressed that Turkey expects the withdrawal of the execution decision. Erdogan, too, is taking part in the efforts to save Bogday's life. He told reporters that he had contacted Saudi officials, and was waiting for the result.

Four Turks beheaded in 1995

In 1995, four Turkish citizens were beheaded in Saudi Arabia on charges of drug trafficking, despite strong pressure from Turkey. Bilateral relations were severely damaged by the move and could only be rebuilt after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government came to power in 2002.

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