Nine women rescued from fake Big Brother house in Turkey
Captives tricked into believing they were reality TV show contestants and filmed naked, say reports
Thursday 10 September 2009 13.12 BST
The luxury villa in Istanbul where nine Turkish girls were held for two months and filmed 24 hours a day believing they were in a reality TV show. Photograph: Alban Donohoe/East Med Media
Turkish military police said today that they had stormed an Istanbul villa to rescue nine women held captive after being tricked into believing they were reality TV show contestants.
The women were rescued on Monday from the villa in Riva, a summer resort on the outskirts of Istanbul, according to a spokesman for the military police in the region who carried out the raid. He said the women were held captive for around two months, but refused to provide further details.
The women were led to believe they were being filmed for a Big Brother-type television programme, according to the Dogan news agency and other news reports. Instead, their naked images were sold on the internet by their captors.
The women had responded to an ad seeking contestants for a reality show which would be aired on a major Turkish television station, Dogan said. The nine captives, including a teenager, were selected from other applicants following an interview.
They were made to sign a contract which stipulated that they could have no contact with their families or the outside world, and would have to pay a fine of 50,000 Turkish lira (£20,000) if they left the show in the first two months, the agency reported.
Dogan and HaberTurk newspaper both reported that the women realised they were being duped and asked to leave the villa.
According to Dogan, they were told they could not leave unless they paid the fine. Those who insisted were threatened.
There were conflicting reports as to how the raid occurred. The Dogan agency said that police stormed the villa after family members complained to police that they were being prevented from contacting the women. The women cried for help when the military police arrived at the villa, it reported.
HaberTurk said, without providing sources, that one of the women managed to contact a family member and ask for help.
There were also conflicting accounts concerning the age of the teenager. Dogan said she was 16, while HaberTurk newspaper gave her age as 15.
HaberTurk reported that the girls were models from the Mediterranean resort of Antalya and the Aegean port city of Izmir.
"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," one captive's mother is quoted as saying. "But they have duped us all."
She said the women were not abused or harassed sexually, but that they were told to fight each other, to wear bikinis and to dance by the villa's pool.
HaberTurk said police had detained four people who lived with the women at the villa at all times. They were released from custody pending the outcome of a trial. Their identities were not released and it was not known what charges were brought.
It is not unusual for Turkish courts to release suspects from custody if the charges brought do not carry long prison sentences, and the suspects are not likely to escape or tamper with evidence.
HaberTurk said the police were still looking for the gang's leader who, according to the report, sold images of the women on the internet.
Police refused to comment on the suspects or the charges.
Nine women rescued from fake Big Brother house in Turkey | World news | guardian.co.uk