ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) – Turkish authorities have released a Syrian man who was arrested last week in connection with an alleged plan to kill President Barack Obama, a senior U.S. official told CNN.
The official said that while U.S. authorities take all threats seriously, they do not believe the president's life was ever in serious danger.
Details concerning the man's release were not immediately available.
The alleged plot was first reported by the Saudi Arabian newspaper al-Watan, which revealed that Turkish security services arrested a man of Syrian origins Friday in connection with a plan to kill Obama during his visit to Turkey. Obama was in Strasbourg, France, on Friday for a NATO Summit and did not arrive in Turkey for the final leg of his trip until Sunday.
The Saudi paper reported that the Syrian man, who was carrying an Al-Jazeera TV press credential in the name of "M.G.," confessed to authorities after his arrest that he and three alleged accomplices were plotting to stab Obama with a knife during the Alliance of Civilizations Summit in Istanbul, which Obama attended on Monday evening. The U.S. officials confirmed those allegations, but emphasized that the information provided by the man is still being verified.
Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Ankara, Yucef al-Sharif, told the newspaper that his news organization knew nothing about the man and suggested he may have obtained a forged press credential. According to U.S. officials, it's unclear whether the man - a permanent resident of Istanbul - had obtained a real press credential as the investigation is still ongoing.
On Sunday, U.S. and international journalists covering Obama's trip did face more extensive searches of their baggage than usual by the U.S. Secret Service before boarding a press charter flight from the Prague, Czech Republic, region to Ankara, Turkey. The same extensive searches were conducted Monday before a flight from Ankara to Istanbul.
But U.S. officials downplayed the possibility that the more extensive searches were done out of a concern that plotters may have infiltrated the media. Instead the officials suggested that since Turkish security officials had not necessarily handled such a large crush of media before, U.S. Secret Service officials simply wanted to go the extra mile in their searches.