Turkish authorities have detained and later deported a Dutch journalist, her newspaper said Thursday — the latest foreign reporter to be ousted from the country, which is frequently accused of stifling media freedoms. Turkish officials said the journalist was deported over alleged links to a terror organization and not for any journalistic activity.
The Netherlands’ Het Financieele Dagblad said Ans Boersma, who worked for the newspaper and other news outlets in Istanbul, was deported on Thursday. She was detained by authorities on Wednesday while submitting documents at an immigration office to extend her Turkish residence permit.
Fahrettin Altun, the communications director for the Turkish presidency, confirmed Boersma’s deportation in a message to foreign journalists in Turkey.
He said her ouster was “in no way related to her journalistic activities during her stay in Turkey” but was based on intelligence received from Dutch police “ that Ms. Boersma had links to a designated terrorist organization.”
Dutch police had “requested information about her movements in and out of Turkey,” Altun added.
Later, Altun tweeted that The Netherlands had informed Turkey that the journalist had links to the jihadist group, Jabhat al-Nusra.
“If a credible foreign government agency tells you that one of their citizens has links to terrorism, you don’t take any chances,” he tweeted. “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.”
Dutch police declined comment and referred reporters to the national prosecutor’s office. Dutch prosecutors did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Boersma’s collegues in Istanbul said the journalist left with just a backpack and the clothes she had on.
In a tweet, Dutch journalists’ union general secretary Thomas Bruning called Boersma’s deportation a “new low point in Turkey’s policy of hostility toward media” and said the European Union and Dutch government should not accept it.
Since a 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has jailed thousands of people including journalists, academics and human rights activists for alleged ties to the coup or for terror-related charges. The Turkish Journalists’ Syndicate says 141 journalists are currently behind bars, leading other media groups to describe Turkey as “the world’s top jailer of journalists.”
In a report released Thursday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said: “Prolonged and arbitrary jailing of critics on bogus terrorism charges has become the norm in Turkey.”