Six years ago, Irineos I was the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem with about 100,000 followers. Today, he sits behind locked doors in his Old City apartment, claiming he has been imprisoned by the successor who ousted him in a dispute over sale of church land to Israelis.

The only way Irineos could speak to The Associated Press Thursday was through a wireless microphone hoisted at the end of a rope to his roof – in the same black shopping bag supporters use nightly to deliver him groceries.

Reporters who tried to gain access to Irineos through the compound’s massive metal door were denied entry by church guards peering out through a crack.

“They allow nobody out and nobody in to visit me,” said Irineos. “They are afraid of the people because I’m loved by the people, and I love the people,” he said into the AP microphone, peering over the edge of his roof.

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