Saturday, November 28, 2020

Turkey deports Dutch journalist over alleged terrorist links

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Ans Boersma, the Turkey correspondent for Dutch financial newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), was deported on Thursday from İstanbul and sent back to the Netherlands over alleged links to a terrorist organization, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) reported.

Boersma was apprehended by Turkish police a day earlier following a visit to the migration office in İstanbul’s Bakırköy district while submitting documents to renew her residence permit as a foreign correspondent. She was reportedly turned over to the police by the migration officers on the spot.

Later brought to the repatriation center, Boersma was informed verbally by the police that she posed a threat to Turkey’s national security and that she was prohibited from entering Turkey for six years, without any further explanation or evidence. She was not provided with any legal documentation confirming her deportation.

Boersma was deported with just her backpack and the clothes on her back as she was not allowed to go home to retrieve her personal belongings.

Just nine days prior to her arrest, she had received her press accreditation from the Turkish authorities for 2019.

Fahrettin Altun, communications director for the Turkish presidency, confirmed Boersma’s deportation via Twitter, claiming that the Netherlands had informed Turkey of the journalist’s alleged links to the Syrian-based jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra. Altun also suggested that the Dutch authorities requested information about her movements in and out of Turkey.

“If a credible foreign government agency tells you that one of their citizens has links to terrorism, you don’t take any chances. The Dutch authorities alone are in a position to explain why they arrived at that conclusion. We won’t speculate on the credibility of their intelligence,” Altun tweeted.

Euronews reported that the Dutch national police and intelligence service declined to comment and that all Dutch authorities referred calls on the matter to the national prosecutor’s office, where spokespeople did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported that prosecutors in the Netherlands had not sought her extradition, citing prosecutors as saying, “We cannot confirm there is a criminal investigation involving Boersma.”

FD rejected Turkey’s allegations. “Ans did her work prudently and responsibly… It’s extraordinary that journalists in Turkey can’t do their work in peace,” FD Editor-in-Chief Jan Bonjer wrote in the paper.

Euronews pointed out that her recent articles for FD included stories about inflation and İstanbul’s new airport as well as an analysis that said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was using the Oct. 2 murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul to boost his international standing.

Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, ranking 157th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.

Since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, Turkey has jailed many journalists, among thousands of people from other walks of life including academics and human rights activists for alleged ties to the coup or on terrorism-related charges.

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