Jun 29 2018

U.S. keeps Turkey travel warning, citing detention risk

The United States warned its citizens against travelling to Turkey, citing a nationwide crackdown that has led to the arrest of thousands of people, including U.S. passport holders.

“Reconsider travel to Turkey due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions,” the State Department said, retaining a travel warning already in place.

U.S. citizens had also been subject to travel bans that prevented them from leaving the country, the State Department said on its website.

“Under the State of Emergency, security forces have detained tens of thousands of individuals, including U.S. citizens, suspected of affiliation with alleged terrorist organizations based on scant or secret evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated,” it said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has intensified a crackdown on its opponents since a failed military coup in July 2016, which it blames on the Fethullah Gulen movement, a Mason-like group whose leader resides in Pennsylvania. U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson is among those jailed on charges of terrorism and supporting Gulen’s movement. He vehemently denies the allegations, based in part on the testimony of a secret witness.

Terrorist groups also continue to plot possible attacks in Turkey. They explicitly target Western tourists and expatriates for kidnapping and assassination, the State Department said.

“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas,” it said.

The State Department also warned that participation in gatherings, protests, and demonstrations not explicitly approved by the Turkish government can result in detention or arrest.