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Jan 17 2019

Dutch journalist deported from Turkey on suspicion of terrorist ties

Turkey deported Dutch journalist Ans Boersma on Thursday morning, for possible ties to a terrorist group, according to several reports.

"Turkish presidency says Turkish authorities 'recently received intelligence from the Dutch police that Ms. Boersma had links to a designated terrorist organization and a request for information about her movements in and out of Turkey,'" The Economist's Turkey correspondent Piotr Zalewski tweeted

Fahrettin Altun, communications director for the Turkish Presidency, provided further detail. "The Netherlands told Turkey that the reporter, who was deported today, had links to Jabhat al-Nusra. We acted on intelligence from the Netherlands and took a precautionary measure," he tweeted, referring to al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate that dissolved to become part of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). 

“And then suddenly you are in the plane back to the Netherlands,” Boersma, Turkey correspondent for the Dutch news outlet Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), tweeted just after midnight Thursday morning. “Unwanted person declared in Turkey. #pressfreedom #freeturkeymedia”

On Wednesday, when Boersma reported to immigration services for an extension of her residence permit, police told her she was being expelled from the country for safety-related reasons, according to FD. She had been working in Turkey since 2017 and had just received her 2019 Turkish press card last week.

“Ans did her work sensibly and responsibly,” FD chief editor Jan Bonjer said. “This measure is a flagrant violation of press freedom. It is extremely sad that journalists in Turkey cannot do their work undisturbed.”

Press freedom advocate Reporters Without Borders tweeted that Boersma "was told she formed a 'threat to national security'". 

Istanbul-based German journalist Christian Fieland said she would be unable to return to Turkey for years. “Apparently Ans can't come to #Turkey for 6 years and her press card has been revoked,” he tweeted.

The journalist’s deportation might be linked to a relationship she had until the summer of 2015 with a Syrian who was arrested in the Netherlands at the end of last year over links to Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, Dutch newspaper De Telegraph said

Turkey ranks 157th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders' 2018 press freedom index. Ankara is currently holding more than 160 journalists in detention, according to P24, a platform that promotes editorial independence in Turkey.

In recent years, Turkey has deported more than a dozen foreign journalists, from the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and other western countries. Last month, Turkey released Austrian journalist Max Zirngast after three months in prison, and allowed him to return home.