A 31-year-old Dutch journalist, Ans Boersma, a reporter for the Dutch financial paper, Het Financieele Dagblad, got fired after she was deported from Turkey on Thursday for alleged involvement with Al-Qaeda links.
Boersma visited the Immigration Office of Istanbul on Wednesday to renew her residence permit when officials notified the police of her visit.
Boersma was detained by the police and sent to a repatriation centre to spend the night. “I have been declared a persona non grata in Turkey,” tweeted Boersma upon her detainment.
Boersma was taken to Ataturk airport where her press card, issued by the Turkish Presidency on January 8, was seized by Turkish officials.
The officials told her that there was nothing untoward with her documents, but that the deportation decision was made on security grounds.
She was then put on a flight back to the Netherlands and received a six-year entry ban to Turkey – the country in which she has been a correspondent since 2017.
Dutch prosecution spokeswoman, Jeichien de Graaff, confirmed that Boersma was a person of interest in an ongoing investigation into militant activity, but also confirmed that Boersma was not being investigated over an act of terrorism.
Dutch authorities stated that they had not sought the deportation of the reporter, but that they had requested information from Turkish authorities about her travels in and out of Turkey.
TheHet Financieele Dagbladdefined Boersma’s deportation as a “flagrant violation of press freedom” and demanded an explanation from Dutch authorities. On the other hand, the newspaper acted in advance and fired the journalist on the grounds of negligence manner multiple times.
“Johanna Cornelia Boersma was fired as she was not clear about her situation and acted in a negligent manner at least three times, significantly damaging trust relations,” the newspaper said in a statement
Dr Fahrettin Altun, the Director of Communications for the Turkish Presidency, responded to the allegations of violation of press freedom, saying that the deportation took place over Boersma’s alleged links to the Nusra Front – an Al-Qaeda offshoot involved in neighbouring Syria’s war.
Altun claimed that Turkish authorities had received intelligence from Dutch police and acted on it by taking precautionary measures.
“If a credible foreign 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,” Tweeted Altun.
Since the deportation, Dutch news portals have focused on Boersma’s alleged falsifying of paperwork for her Syrian ex-boyfriend.
Allegations made by Nieuwsuur, a TV news program aired on the Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO, are that Boersma helped her ex-boyfriend forge a Syrian passport with a false name to apply for a Netherlands visa in 2013 and 2014.
According to DutchNews, the Syrian man, who goes by the name Aziz, was arrested recently in the Netherlands because of his previous activities with Nusra Front.
According to the December 2018 report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey is by far the leading jailer of journalists in the world. Turkey also ranks 157th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders.