U.S. says citizens should exercise increased caution about travel to Turkey

The United States urged its citizens to exercise increased caution when travelling to Turkey, warning of terrorism and arbitrary detentions.

Terrorist groups continue to plot attacks in Turkey and the security forces have detained tens of thousands of people, including U.S. citizens, based on scant or secret evidence that appears to be politically motivated, the U.S. Department of State said in a statement on Thursday.

“U.S. citizens have also been subject to travel bans that prevent them from departing Turkey,” it said in the updated travel advisory. “Participation in demonstrations not explicitly approved by the Government of Turkey, as well as criticism of the government, including on social media, can result in arrest.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is cracking down on political dissent and police have arrested tens of thousands of people for alleged links to groups including the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Fethullah Gülen movement, which Erdoğan blames for orchestrating a failed military coup in 2016. Gulen, an Islamic preacher, lives in the United States.

Citizens should not travel to areas near the Syrian or Iraqi borders and reconsider any trips to 14 provinces in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country, including Diyarbakır, Mardin and Gaziantep, the State Department said.

Public demonstrations in southeast Turkey have become more common place since Erdoğan’s government replaced several local mayors after they won seats in local elections earlier this year.