Turkey has deported a journalist back to the Netherlands as a “precautionary measure” after receiving a tip-off from Dutch authorities that she was linked to designated terror groups in Syria.
Johanna Cornelia Boersma, who worked as a freelance reporter for Dutch paper Het Financieele Dagblad, flew back to Dutch capital Amsterdam yesterday morning after being held by Turkish security authorities overnight. Having just had her press pass renewed for 2019, commentators argued that her expulsion was evidence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on press freedom.
However Fahrettin Altun, director of communications for the Turkish presidency, later confirmed that her deportation was not the result of her journalistic activities but rather due to concerns expressed by the Dutch authorities.
“Turkish authorities have recently received intelligence from the Dutch police that Ms. Boersma had links to a designated terrorist organisation and a request for information about her movements in and out of Turkey,” Altun said on Twitter.
“If a credible foreign gov’t [government] agency tells you that one of their citizens has links to terrorism, you don’t take any chances. 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,” he added.
While the Dutch prosecutor clarified that the Netherlands had not requested her extradition, spokesman Jeichien de Graaff confirmed that she was relevant to a wider investigation into several suspects.
Two people with knowledge of the Dutch investigation told the Financial Times that police in the Netherlands were investigating one of Boersma’s ex-boyfriends for alleged links to Jabhat Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda linked group in Syria.
The editor of Dutch paper Trouw, where Boersma also worked, published an article on its website stating that he was “deeply shocked” at the expulsion. “[Boersma] did her work sensibly and responsibly,” he said, adding: “This measure is a flagrant violation of press freedom.”