Skip to main content

Turkey to repatriate White Helmets backer Le Mesurier's body to UK

Turkish officials say there is no indication from initial autopsy that British man's death in fall from Istanbul apartment was suspicious
Le Mesurier founded the Mayday Rescue group, which provided training to the White Helmets in Syria (Social media)
By in
Istanbul

The body of James Le Mesurier, a major backer of the Syrian Civil Defence, popularly known as the White Helmets, has been transferred to the custody of his family and will be flown to the UK later on Wednesday, Turkish sources have told Middle East Eye.

Le Mesurier was found dead at the foot of the building, where his third-floor flat was located, early on Monday in Istanbul's central Beyoglu district. 

"He appeared to have fallen from a height. Current information suggests he had committed suicide," a source told MEE at the time on the condition of anonymity.

White Helmets backer James Le Mesurier found dead in Turkey
Read More »

A second Turkish source with knowledge of the case told MEE that the building was only accessible by using fingerprint identification. 

Preliminary evidence suggests that the system was only accessed by Le Mesurier and his wife overnight.

Turkish officials told MEE that preliminary evidence did not appear to suggest that Le Mesurier had died in suspicious circumstances.

According to the sources contacted on Wednesday, Turkish authorities completed an autopsy on the former British army officer's body earlier in the day and it was subsequently delivered to his family. 

The body is expected to be flown to Britain at 9pm (18:00 GMT) local time.

Multiple Turkish media reports said the initial autopsy report was consistent with the earlier police theory that Le Mesurier had taken his own life. 

"The report said the death was caused by overall physical trauma. No sign of a blow was detected. This strengthened the suicide theory," reports said. 

Sleeping pills

Emma Hedvig Christina Winber, Le Mesurier's wife, told police that her husband had been depressed for the last few days, according to sources spoken to by MEE. 

Syria War: White Helmets head condemns Russian 'disinformation campaign'
Read More »

"She (Le Mesurier's wife) said in order to get medical help for his depression, they travelled to a downtown area from Princes' Islands (located off the coast of Istanbul)," a source with direct knowledge of the case told MEE.

"She also said Le Mesurier mentioned his thoughts of committing suicide 15 days ago."

According to his wife, Le Mesurier was also using sleeping pills and other medications to combat his depression. 

A final report on the autopsy is expected to be delivered next week upon completion of a blood analysis. 

Le Mesurier was the founder of the Mayday Rescue group which trained the White Helmets.

Last week, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused Mesurier of being a "former agent" of the UKs MI6 intelligence agency and said he had connections to "terrorist groups".

The British embassy in Turkey declined to comment to MEE for this story.