Government Deports British Journalist Covering Local Elections in Turkey

Turkish authorities deported, on Friday, an editor of the British socialist daily Morning Star, who arrived in Turkey to cover March 31 local elections, German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Steve Sweeney, Morning Star’s international editor, was detained on his arrival by Turkish police and held overnight before being deported, according to DW’s report.

The Morning Star daily tweeted that Sweeney is “more determined than ever” to speak out on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime’s human rights abuses.

“The Star’s international editor Steve Sweeney is back in Britain after being deported from Turkey, where he was to report on the contentious local elections. He is exhausted but okay, says he is more determined than ever to speak out on the Erdogan regime’s human rights abuses,” the tweet read, on Friday morning.

Turkish citizens headed to ballots on Sunday to elect metropolitan municipality mayors, district mayors, municipal council members and headmen as part of local elections Erdogan has described as “a matter of survival.”

Rights groups and international bodies have already raised questions over the fairness of elections and warned of an “uneven playing field,” where the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accused opposition politicians of links to “terrorists” and threatened to jail them.

Sweeney had planned to cover the elections in Turkey’s eastern and south-eastern regions, where the predominantly Kurdish left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is expected to pose a significant challenge to the ruling AK Party’s candidates.

According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists in December 2018, Turkey is by far the leading jailer of journalists in the world. Turkey also ranked 157th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders.

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