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Turkish Police Arrest Dutch Journalist for Insulting Erdogan on Twitter

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FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace in Ankara, March 16, 2016. Ebru Umar, a well-known columnist for the Dutch Metro newspaper, was arrested by Turkish police at her home in Turkey after she insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter.

FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators at his palace in Ankara, March 16, 2016. Ebru Umar, a well-known columnist for the Dutch Metro newspaper, was arrested by Turkish police at her home in Turkey after she insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter.

A Dutch journalist was arrested by Turkish police early Sunday morning at her home in Turkey after she insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter.

Ebru Umar, a well-known columnist for the Dutch Metro newspaper, tweeted that police were at the front door of her home late Saturday night and they were taking her to a police station for questioning.

"Police at the door. No joke," she tweeted. She followed up with another tweet saying, "I'm not free, we're going to the hospital," as she left her home in Kusadasi, a resort town in western Turkey.

Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Herman van Gelderen, confirmed that Umar had been detained but gave no details.

“We are aware of it. We are in contact and we’re following the case very closely,” he said.

Political firestorm

Umar published a column last week that caused a political firestorm after the Turkish consulate reportedly sent an email to Turkish organizations in the Netherlands asking them to report anyone who insults Erdogan on social media.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he would question Turkish authorities about the email, and said he was unsure what the Turkish government hoped to achieve.

The Turkish consulate downplayed the email and said it was sent by a consular official who used an “unfortunate choice of words” that were misinterpreted.

Umar’s arrest comes at a time of increased hostility towards journalists in Turkey. Two Turkish journalists are currently on trial and could face life in prison for publishing a story with images alleging the Turkish government smuggled weapons to Syria.

'Terrorist propaganda'

In another case, also related to increasingly restricted free speech in the country under Erdogan, four Turkish academics accused of spreading “terrorist propaganda” went on trial in the same courthouse in Istanbul Friday for signing a declaration condemning Turkey’s military action against Kurdish rebels.

The four academics on trial and more than 1,000 of their colleagues signed the petition urging Turkey to halt its “deliberate massacres and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region."

The petition infuriated Erdogan and led to the legal proceedings against them.

If convicted, the academics could be sentenced to up to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

Since becoming president in 2014, Erdogan has prosecuted nearly 2,000 people for insulting him.

Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.

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