Turkish police say women held captive on show set

ISTANBUL — Turkish military police said today that they had stormed an Istanbul villa to rescue nine captive women whose scantily clad images were posted online after they were recruited for a television reality show.

The women said they had believed they were being filmed for a television show like “Big Brother,” which confines a group of people to a house under the constant gaze of cameras, the Dogan news agency and other Turkish media said, without citing sources.

Instead, pictures of the women posing in bathing suits and exercising were distributed on a Turkish-language Web site that allowed users to vote for their favorite woman, and see more images, by charging money through their mobile phones.

The women soon realized they had been duped, and asked to leave the villa, according to local media.

The women were rescued Monday in the villa in Riva, a resort near Istanbul, a spokesman for the military police who carried out the raid told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give details of the raid.

Hilmi Tufan Cakir, a lawyer representing the show’s organizers, said eight out of the nine women had formally complained that they were held against their will.

“There is no question of them being forcibly held,” Cakir said.

However, he said prosecutors were preparing an indictment against some company officials charging them with holding the women.

According to Turkish news reports, the women said they had responded to an ad searching for contestants for a reality show that would be aired on a Turkish television station.

They were made to sign a contract that said they could have no contact with their families and would have to pay a $33,000 fine if they left the show before two months, Dogan reported.

The women were told they could not leave unless they paid the fine and those who insisted were threatened, the agency said.

Cakir said that the show was legitimate and was broadcast on the Internet to paying subscribers.

“They knew that this competition would be aired on the Internet live and that this broadcast would not be open to everyone,” he said.

Cakir said about 14 people had been working on the show for the Istanbul Grup Bilisim Electronic, Trade, Communication and Advertisement company.

The show’s candy-pink Web site showcases contestants and asks viewers to subscribe through their mobile phones. Clicking on the pictures open up images of the women in shorts, miniskirts or bikinis.

Broken glass could be seen at the entrance of the two-story stone villa and near its pool today. Cameras were removed but a room still had editing and video-monitoring equipment.

A handwritten sign on one door read: “No one can do their hair, touch the makeup or take clothes without permission.”

Cakir claimed the raid came after the women became “bored” and one of them called her mother for help. The villa’s security guard was detained and released pending the outcome of a trial, he said. It is not unusual for Turkish courts to release suspects from custody if the charges brought don’t carry long prison sentences.

“We were not after the money but we thought our daughter could have the chance of becoming famous if she took part in the contest,” HaberTurk quoted the mother of one of the women as saying. The paper identified her only by her first name, Remziye.

She said the women were not sexually harassed but were told to wear bikinis and dance by the pool.

The “Big Brother” show has courted controversy around the world since it debuted in 1999 in the Netherlands.

In 2007 a celebrity version of the show in Britain sparked a diplomatic spat after Indians complained that Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty was racially abused by fellow contestants.

In 2006, Australia’s then-Prime Minister John Howard appealed to the network broadcasting his country’s version of “Big Brother” to “get this stupid program off the air” after a male contestant rubbed his crotch in the face of a female housemate.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Everett
Everett courthouse garage briefly closed for ‘suspicious package’ report

A man drove his car into the Snohomish County Courthouse garage and reported he believed the package was in his car.

High-capacity magazines at The Freedom Shoppe gun store, which was holding a sale in anticipation of new gun control measures, in New Milford, Conn., April 2, 2013. The store is liquidating their stock of weapons expected to be banned. Months after the massacre of 26 people at a school in Newtown, Conn., legislative leaders in the state on Monday announced what they called the most far-reaching gun-legislation package in the country. (Wendy Carlson/The New York Times)
WA high court leaves ban in place for now on high-capacity ammo magazines

Monday’s decision will keep the law in effect until the court hears arguments, possibly this fall, on the bill sponsored by an Edmonds senator.

Firefighters respond to a 911 call Tuesday morning in Mill Creek. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Mill Creek house fire displaces 3

Firefighters responded to a house fire in the 14100 block of 30th Avenue SE early Tuesday morning. No one was injured.

Alyvia Nguyen, 8, climbs on leaf shaped steps at the new Corcoran Memorial Park playground on Friday, July 12, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Bothell-area park ‘could not be a more fitting dedication’

In 2019, Jim Corcoran donated $1.5 million worth of land to become a public park. He died before he could see it completed.

Cars line up for the Edmonds ferry in Edmonds, Washington on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Ferry line jumpers face a $145 fine — and scorn from other drivers

Law enforcement is on the lookout for line cutters. It’s a “hot-button issue that can lead to something worse.”

Mother charged in Stanwood toddler’s fentanyl overdose death

Morgan Bassett woke up in January 2022 and found her daughter wasn’t breathing. Last week, she was charged with manslaughter.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.