On 31 January Ryan Keating appeared in court in an ongoing trial to answer charges of illegally importing literature – the result of a joint police and customs raid on his home in January 2021 in which personal Bibles and Christian books were seized. A change of lawyer led to a new approach for the defence, seeking to show that the legal action against Ryan is related to his Christian activities and a violation of his right to religious freedom. This approach surprised the prosecutor, who then requested an interview with his counsel.
On 1 February the first hearing will take place in the legal action Ryan brought against the newspaper Kıbrıs Postası, which had published incorrect news about Ryan when reporting on the 2021 raid made on his home in Iskele and business premises – Exile Café – in Famagusta.
On 7 February a hearing is scheduled in the Famagusta court on charges of providing unlawful training on barista skills and wine appreciation. His lawyer told the court at a 22 December hearing that the charges are politically motivated and a violation of his human rights and religious freedom as outlined in the North Cyprus Constitution.
On 13 February a further hearing will take place in Famagusta regarding the Bibles and New Testaments confiscated from Exile Café during the 2021 raid. Exile Café is the registered address for the local church association and the books in various languages were for the use of the international fellowship. The customs department claims they were illegally imported from the Republic of Cyprus.
The Ministry of Labour also summoned Ryan for questioning on 31 January about his Christian activities. However, the reponsible official was absent and the questioning postponed. It is unclear why this department wants information about Ryan’s Christian activities.
Over the past two years Ryan has been summoned multiple times by police and prosecutors in both Iskele and Famagusta districts for questioning focused on his Christian activities, supporting the belief that legal action is being used as a pretext to harass him for religious motives.
Ongoing prayer is requested that:
- God will continue to strengthen and encourage Ryan during these challenges and that his lawyer will have wisdom in presenting his defence
- Any underlying motives behind the legal actions against Ryan will be exposed and addressed