Turkish-Dutch journalist detained over Erdogan tweet

AP News
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Posted: Apr 24, 2016 10:49 AM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish authorities on Sunday released a Turkish-Dutch journalist from police custody but barred her from leaving Turkey as they continue to investigate tweets she posted about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ebru Umar, a columnist for Metro newspaper, was detained for questioning late on Saturday at her home in the Aegean resort of Kusadasi, on the orders of a prosecutor for social media postings deemed to be "insulting to state leaders," Turkey's state-run news agency reported. The journalist had tweeted in Dutch late Saturday that police were at her door and that she was being taken to a police station in Kusadasi.

Anadolu Agency said she was released following questioning by prosecutors but has been barred from leaving the country.

In a short video posted on Metro's website, Umar said she was woken up Saturday night by two police officers knocking on her door who told her to go with them because of two tweets.

"I was treated well, I can't put it any other way," she said. "I had a good evening with a 55-year-old man discussing politics and the situation in Turkey."

She said she "is not altogether free. I am not allowed to leave the country." She said a lawyer is trying to get the travel restriction lifted because she wants to return to the Netherlands.

Turkish authorities have launched close to 2,000 lawsuits against people accused of insulting Erdogan since he came to office in 2014, including for social media postings.

Umar was detained as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top EU officials were in Turkey to bolster a deal to stem the flow of migrants to Europe. The EU leaders have been accused of not speaking out against Turkey's crackdown on freedom of expression because of the country's role in stopping the refugee influx. Merkel has come under criticism for her decision earlier this month to grant Turkey's request to let German prosecutors and courts decide whether a German comedian insulted Erdogan.

Umar wrote a column last week for Metro criticizing an appeal sent by Turkey's consulate in Rotterdam urging Turks in the Netherlands to report cases of people insulting Turkey or its leader. She compared the letter to "NSB practices," a reference to the Dutch branch of the Nazi party before and during World War II.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte last week responded to reports of the appeal by saying "it is not a good thing and our ambassador will ask for clarification from the Turkish authorities."

Earlier this week, a German reporter was detained at an Istanbul airport and sent back to Cairo where he is based. A day later, authorities denied entry into Turkey for Russian news agency Sputnik's Istanbul-based general manager.

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Mike Corder in The Hague contributed to this report.