IFJ and EFJ call on Turkey to release Dutch journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European organisation, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), have called on Turkish authorities to immediately release Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink. According to media reports, Geerdink was arrested on Sunday 6 September, at around 2 am, near the city of Yüksekova (Hakkari province, southeastern Turkey), while covering an event by activists of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a Kurdish opposition organisation. Geerdink was following a “human shield group” of 32 people when she was detained with all the members of the group. The police told them they were in a restricted area. The Dutch journalist had previously been arrested in January on charges of disseminating “terrorist propaganda” in her coverage of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). The IFJ, the EFJ and their affiliate, the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), condemned the arrest and prosecution of Geerdink at that time. Her charges were dropped in April. On Sunday, Thomas Bruning, the General Secretary of NVJ, told media that Geerdink’s detention was unacceptable and that it has become a crime for journalists to do their job in Turkey. “We are gravely concerned by increasing political interference from Turkish authorities with journalists’ coverage of delicate issues,” said IFJ President, Jim Boumelha. “We stand by our Dutch affiliate and our European colleagues and advocate for the immediate release of Geerdink.” The EFJ is closely watching developments. The EFJ General Secretary, Ricardo Gutiérrez, called on Turkish authorities to immediately release Frederike Geerdink. “The EFJ and the IFJ will raise her case at the international conference we are organising together on press freedom in Turkey, in Istanbul, on 17 and 18 September,” he said. Geerdink’s arrest comes just a week after Vice News’ British journalists Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury were detained while reporting on clashes in southern Turkey between government forces and Kurdish rebels. They were later released and Vice said on Sunday 7 September that both journalists had safely returned to Britain.

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