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Turkey arrests Dutch journalist in Kurdish area

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink

Turkish authorities have detained another foreign journalist in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast as she was covering Ankara’s military campaign against Kurdish militants.

The arrest of Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink on Sunday marked the second time she was taken into custody by Turkish security officers so far this year, AFP reported, citing a Twitter post by the reporter saying that she had been arrested in the Yuksekova district of Turkey’s Hakkari Province and due to be interrogated by a state prosecutor.

Speaking to Dutch broadcaster NOS, she further said that Turkish authorities had accused her of entering a “forbidden zone.” She insisted, however, that there was “no sign anywhere saying you can’t be there.”

According to the report, a Turkish official said that Geerdink was arrested for a “breach of security” since she entered a zone where permission was required.

Wreckage lies on the ground in front of a Turkish military station covered by a tarp after a bombing attack blamed on Kurdish PKK militants in the eastern Turkish town of Dogubeyazit in Agri Province, August 2, 2015 . (Photo by AFP)

 

Geerdink further told the NOS that prior to her detention, she was reporting on a group of 32 activists forming human shields in one of the areas where Turkish troops are conducting military operations against Kurdish militants.

“I expected to spend two hours with them (the activists), but when we got there, the road was blocked by the army and I ended up spending two days there,” she said as cited in the report.

Back in January, she was briefly detained by Turkish authorities on allegations of “spreading terrorist propaganda” for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). She was, however, acquitted at her trial in April.

Geerdink, the report said, moved to Turkey in 2006 and primarily reports on the country’s Kurdish population.

The development came just days after two British journalists employed by US-based media outlet Vice News were also detained while reporting from the majority Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in late August. They were kept in custody for a week on alleged terrorism charges.

Both have since been released and returned to the UK. Their Iraqi translator, however, has remained in custody.

Concerns are growing about press freedom in Turkey as reporters are increasingly complaining of persisting pressure on media outlets that are critical of the government amid Ankara’s military campaign against the PKK.

The PKK and Turkish security forces have exchanged fire daily since July, when a two-year-old ceasefire fell apart.

 


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