Significant British collections of ancient and modern seeds have been seized by the Turkish state.
Thousands of historically important specimens held by the British Institute at Ankara were taken after President Erdogan’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism claimed the collections belonged to Turkey and “would be removed the same day”.
The seeds are the legacy of Gordon Hillman, a pioneering British archaeobotanist who died two years ago. One analyst said that the move was an expression of the “hyper-nationalist atmosphere” that increasingly exists under Mr Erdogan.
Stephen Mitchell, chairman of the British Institute, revealed the seizure in a letter to board members which was leaked to Al-Monitor, a news website covering the Middle East.
Mr Mitchell said officials had taken “108 boxes of archaeobotanical specimens.