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Duchess of York Charged by Turkish Authorities Over Orphanage Documentary

Sarah Ferguson
Stephen Lovekin/FFR/Getty Images

Sarah Ferguson has been accused of trying to smear the country’s reputation after secretly filming harrowing conditions in an Ankara orphanage in 2008.

LONDON – The Duchess of York has been formally charged in her absence by the Turkish legal authorities after secretly filming life in an orphanage for a TV documentary three years ago.

The Turkish chief prosecutor has announced that it will press charges against the Duchess, formerly Sarah Ferguson, accusing her of “violating the privacy” of children in an Ankara orphanage.

If she is found guilty by the Turkish courts, the Duchess could face a prison sentence of anything between seven and 20 years.

Since the act of filming under those circumstances is not considered a crime in Britain, however, the government would not support extradition according to Home Office sources.

A spokesman for the Duchess told The Telegraph that the British government had already refused to get involved.

“It is important to stress that the Duchess was on a humanitarian mission at the time,” he said. “I am not aware of what jurisdiction the Turkish authorities have over the Duchess, At the time [2008] the British government was asked if it would help and they refused.”

In the documentary, made for ITV’s Tonight show, the former wife of Prince Andrew donned a wig and headscarf and secretly filmed conditions after being given access to the Saray orphanage in Ankara. She visited the home for abandoned children with her daughter, Princess Eugenie, who was shown in tears.

It appeared to show harrowing scenes of children tied to beds and left unfed, clearly suffering serious psychological and physical distress.