Turkey arrests and deports Dutch journalist Ans Boersma | News | DW | 17.01.2019
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Turkey arrests and deports Dutch journalist Ans Boersma

Dutch journalist Ans Boersma was detained while trying to prolong her Turkish visa in Istanbul and deported the next morning. A Turkish official said the expulsion was not linked with her "journalist activities."

Turkish authorities deported Ans Boersma, a 31-year-old correspondent for Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, on Thursday, the paper and Turkish sources confirmed.

"And all of a sudden, you are in an airplane going back to Netherlands," Boersma posted on Twitter, adding she had been declared "unwanted" in Turkey.

The Dutch national had been reporting for the financial paper from Istanbul since early 2017 and only received her 2019 accreditation last week. Turkish officials detained the reporter while she was visiting the local immigration office to extend her visa.

According to Erol Önderoglu, Turkey's local "Reporters Without Borders" (RSF) representative, officials told Boersma she was a threat to national security.

"No journalist should be deported nine days after having acquired a press card, which by the way is issued by the Presidency Directorate of Communications, an official presidential body," he told DW. "No journalist could be sent back to his/her own country without being provided with any sort of documentation of the alleged offenses. This is procedurally wrong."

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Boersma spent the night in the detention center and was not allowed to go back to her apartment for her belongings, according to her paper.

"At this time, all I can say is that her deportation wasn't related to her journalistic activities or her reporting from Turkey," said a Turkish official cited by the Reuters news agency said.

Het Financieele Dagblad also reported that the Dutch embassy had tried to intervene and prevent the expulsion, but without success. The paper also said it would contend the deportation alongside Boersma from the Netherlands.

However, RSF's Önderoglu told DW that a campaign for her safe return to Turkey was a "very sensitive subject."

"Few foreign journalists actually contest deportation decisions," he said. "Up to this day, we have never witnessed a court case at which a journalist managed to reverse a deportation decision. If a journalist can prove that she/he got deported under questionable procedures, it would become an exemplary case for other journalists. I don't know of any such example."

Opening old wounds

The unexpected move comes as ties between Turkey and the Netherlands were returning to normal following a bitter diplomatic row. The spat started after Dutch authorities prevented Turkish ministers from campaigning in favor of a constitutional referendum in March 2017. Ankara responded by suspending diplomatic ties, with the Dutch foreign ministry formally withdrawing their envoy in February the following year. The countries eventually moved to resolve the dispute and normalize relations in July 2018.

Scores of reporters are currently imprisoned over their work Turkey, which is considered to be the world's largest jailer of journalists. Berlin also clashed with Ankara over the year-long detention of German reporter Deniz Yücel, who was eventually released early last year.

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dj/rt (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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