Dutch prosecutors: Reporter expelled by Turkey is a suspect

January 17, 2019 GMT

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey deported a Dutch journalist on Thursday after receiving information about her from prosecutors in the Netherlands involved in a terrorism investigation. A Dutch prosecutor’s office spokeswoman said the reporter is a suspect in an investigation, but not for terrorism offenses.

The spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the nature of the suspicions against the reporter, Ans Boersma.

Boersma, who worked for respected newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad and other news outlets in Istanbul, was detained by authorities on Wednesday while submitting documents at an immigration office to extend her Turkish residence permit.

The newspaper said in a statement that Boersma believes her deportation may be linked to a past relationship she had with a Syrian man suspected in the Netherlands of being a former member of a jihadist group.

Fahrettin Altun, the communications director for the Turkish presidency, confirmed Boersma’s deportation in a message to foreign journalists in Turkey.

He said her ouster was “in no way related to her journalistic activities during her stay in Turkey” but was based on intelligence received from Dutch police “that Ms. Boersma had links to a designated terrorist organization.”

Dutch police had “requested information about her movements in and out of Turkey,” Altun added.

Later, Altun tweeted that the Netherlands had informed Turkey that the journalist had links to the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra.

“If a credible foreign government agency tells you that one of their citizens has links to terrorism, you don’t take any chances,” he tweeted. “The Dutch authorities alone are in a position to explain why they arrived at that conclusion. We won’t speculate on the credibility of their intelligence.”

Jeichien de Graaff, a spokeswoman for the Dutch National Public Prosecutor’s Office, said that prosecutors asked for information from Turkish authorities as part of a terror investigation and passed on information about Boersma. She would not confirm further details released by Turkish authorities.

“We would very much like to talk to her,” De Graaff said, adding that Dutch authorities did not ask Turkey to deport her.

In a statement on the Financieele Dagblad website, the newspaper’s editor Jan Bonjer said it remains unclear why Dutch police shared information about Boersma with Turkey.

“Ans herself considers it possible her deportation is related to the fact that until the summer of 2015 she had a relationship with a Syrian who was arrested in the Netherlands last autumn for former membership of the Syrian terror network Jabhat al-Nusra,” the newspaper statement said.

Boersma’s collegues in Istanbul said the journalist left with just a backpack and the clothes she had on.

Before the Dutch prosecutors’ statement, Boersma’s deportation was cast as the latest crackdown by Turkey on media freedom.

Since a 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has jailed thousands of people including journalists, academics and human rights activists for alleged ties to the coup or for terror-related charges. The Turkish Journalists’ Syndicate says 141 journalists are currently behind bars, leading other media groups to describe Turkey as “the world’s top jailer of journalists.”

In a report released Thursday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said: “Prolonged and arbitrary jailing of critics on bogus terrorism charges has become the norm in Turkey.”


Corder reported from The Hague, Netherlands.