The Netherlands revised its travel advice for Turkey, urging Dutch citizens visiting the country to exercise caution.
In an updated notice posted on its website on Monday, the Dutch foreign ministry said travelers, notably the expatriate Turks should expect that phones, as well as electronic devices, can be checked at Turkish airports without the involvement of a lawyer.
It also said this could be done without an official investigation being started and social media statements may be punishable in the country.
“Dutch nationals, with Turkish nationality, in particular, may be confronted with questioning or prosecution when entering and during their stay in Turkey,” the travel advice reads.
The ministry said individuals who have contacts with organizations or persons that the Turkish authorities consider terrorist may also be regarded as suspects.
The warning also called on the Dutch people to stay alert if they criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on social media, as “insulting the president” is a crime in Turkey.
In 2017 a Dutch with Turkish nationality was arrested in Turkey for insulting Erdogan after his remarks on social media, criticizing the political situation in the country and describing the president as a thief and a traitor.
In the statement issued this week people who have both Dutch and Turkish nationality were advised to approach the embassy or consulate-general for consular assistance when they face problems.
It said this was since the Turkish authorities do not always notify the Dutch embassy in Ankara in such cases, saying those people are treated as Turkish citizens in Turkey.
US and Germany issue travel warning as well
On April 9, the US State Department raised the travel advisory level for Turkey and urged its citizens to “reconsider travel to Turkey due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions.”
In 2017, the German foreign ministry advised citizens about heightened security risks in Turkey following a failed coup attempt in 2016.
Dutch move comes after an arrest of expatriate
The Dutch move came after an expatriate Turk was arrested in Turkey last week.
Ahmet Tuna Altinel, a mathematics professor at Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University in France has been detained on terrorism charges in the western province of Balikesir on Friday while he was getting information about a travel restriction imposed on his passport at a police station.
Altinel was later remanded in prison on the grounds that he had made propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during a panel discussion he allegedly attended in France.
According to Altinel’s lawyer, the academic has not participated in such a conference organized in France, left-leaning daily Evrensel reported on Saturday.
The lawyer also said Altınel had been visiting Turkey frequently to attend trial proceedings as he was part of the Academics for Peace initiative. The academician was this time unable to travel back to France due to a restriction on his passport.
Altinel is an Academic for Peace, a signatory to a peace declaration titled, We will not be a party to this crime, in January 2016. The petition called on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to halt a military offensive in the predominantly Kurdish populated south-eastern cities, which caused civilian deaths and destruction of residential areas.
Among more than 2,000 academics, 121 were given prison sentences, according to a report by Front Line Defenders. All Academics for Peace face accusations of disseminating terrorist propaganda.
Turkish minister threatens Germans
During an election rally on March 3, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that people in Europe and Germany who attend terrorist organization meetings would be arrested when they arrive in Turkey.
“We have now taken precautions for those who attend terrorist organizations’ rallies in Germany and Europe and then go on vacation in Antalya, Bodrum, and Mugla,” Soylu said, referring to the popular tourist provinces in Turkey.
“All right then, let us see. If they dare come, they will be detained as soon as they arrive at the airports and head straight to prison. Impossible, no way!” he said, claiming that it will not be easy for those who act treacherously abroad to then go to Turkey for a vacation.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reacted to the Turkish minister calling the statement unacceptable and worrying, adding that Germany reserved the right to take steps in this regard.
“I want to remind German citizens that we have already been facing the risk of being arrested in Turkey,” said Maria Adebahr, German Foreign Office spokesperson.
She was referring to travel warnings and safety information given in October that advised German citizens to avoid criticizing the Turkish government and Erdogan on social media if they wanted to visit Turkey.
“I recommend that all of you who want to go to Turkey should read those warnings. Statements made in Germany that are covered under freedom of expression can cause prosecution in Turkey,” she added, according to Deutsche Welle (DW).