Turkey deports Dutch journalist over ‘national security’ concerns

Turkish authorities on Thursday deported Ans Boersma, a 31-year-old Dutch correspondent for Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), the newspaper confirmed.

Boersma announced the deportation on her Twitter account early in the morning, saying “… all of a sudden, you are in an airplane going back to the Netherlands.”

Boersma has been reporting for FD and the One World magazine since 2017 and received her new press accreditation last week.

According to FD, the Dutch journalist was detained yesterday by the police when she visited Immigration Services to extend her residence permit. The Immigration Services officials reportedly called the police when they realized her name was blacklisted. The journalist was briefly detained at a repatriation center in İstanbul and deported from Turkey in the morning. She was advised of a six-year ban on entering Turkey.

“The decision to deport Johanna Cornelia Boersma on Thursday was made after Turkish authorities got intelligence from the Dutch police that the journalist had links to a terrorist group,” the communications director at the Turkish Presidency, Fahrettin Altun, told the state-run Anadolu news agency in a written statement. Altun did not specify any particular group.

However, a spokesperson at The Netherlands Prosecutor’s Office told BBC that Ans Boersma’s deportation did not come at the request of prosecutors in the Netherlands and she is neither a terror suspect nor detained at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Turkey, the most notorious country in the world in terms of jailing journalists, has also come after foreign reporters in an ever-escalating crackdown on freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

A recent report by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “The Clampdown on Foreign Journalists in Turkey” explains in detail how reporters from other countries face serious obstacles in Turkey that at times suggest a deliberate, systematic and calibrated policy by the government is, in fact, being implemented.

SCF has also compiled 34 cases in which foreign journalists faced detention, jailing, denial of residence permit extensions, cancelation of accreditation, deportation, prohibition on entering Turkey, discrediting and finger-pointing in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format as of December 26, 2018.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is also the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 241 journalists and media workers were in jail as of January 9, 2019, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 166 were under arrest pending trial while only 75 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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