Turkey deports British journalist covering local elections

Turkish authorities deported an editor of the British socialist daily Morning Star on Friday, days before the local elections he had arrived to report on, German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Morning Star editor Steve Sweeney was detained on his arrival by Turkish police and held overnight before being deported, DW said.

“The Star's international editor @SweeneySteve is back in Britain after being deported from Turkey, where he was to report on the contentious local elections. He is exhausted but ok. Says he is more determined than ever to speak out on the Erdogan regime's human rights abuses,” Morning Star said in a tweet on Friday morning.

Turks are heading to the ballots on Sunday to choose mayors, councillors and neighbourhood heads in elections Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described as a matter of survival. Observers have already raised questions over the fairness of elections that will be carried out in a deeply uneven media atmosphere in which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has accused opposition politicians of links to “terrorists”.

Sweeney had planned to cover the elections in the east and south-eastern regions of the country, where the predominantly Kurdish left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is expected to pose a significant challenge to the ruling party’s candidates.

The repression of critical voices in Turkey’s domestic media has been a long-running cause for concern, earning Turkey 157th place out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders (RSF)’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

In March RSF accused the Turkish government of deliberately preventing foreign journalists from receiving press cards after several European reporters were barred from a press conference held by Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak and EU Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen.