American Museum of Natural History Curator Detained on Smuggling Claim

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On Monday, a curator at New York’s American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) was detained for allegedly attempting to smuggle spider and scorpion samples from Istanbul, reported ABC News. The curator said he had government permits to conduct research.

Arachnid expert Lorenzo Prendini tried to take roughly 1,500 samples out of the country when he was held by police at the Istanbul Airport. The species in question were originally found in Turkey.

Officers could be seen searching Prendini’s luggage and removing plastic bags packed with dead spider and scorpion specimens in video footage published by the Demiroren News Agency.

According to Prendini, the Turkish government’s permits granted to conduct research in collaboration with local scientists were disregarded by the police.

“The police completely ignored this and relied on the testimony of an ‘expert’ who has a conflict of interest with my collaborators … and whose scientific research is highly questionable,” Prendini told the Associated Press. “The police have completely violated due process and it appears they would like to find me guilty in the court of public opinion.”

Prendini is the curator of AMNH’s spider, scorpion, centipede, and millipede collections.

The museum has not responded to ARTnews‘ request for comment.

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