Journalist held for Erdogan ‘insult’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo - 20 April)Image copyright

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Insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can leave journalists open to prosecution – even outside Turkey

A Dutch-Turkish journalist has been detained in Turkey after posting tweets critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, her newspaper said.

Ebru Umar wrote a column for the Dutch Metro newspaper criticising President Erdogan’s clampdown on dissent.

Since 2014, prosecutors have launched cases against more than 1,800 journalists for insulting Mr Erdogan.

Last week, Germany allowed the prosecution of a prominent TV satirist for insulting Mr Erdogan to proceed.

Jan Boehmermann had read a crude poem on TV, aimed at testing German law.

Germany and the Netherlands have old lese-majeste laws against insulting the head of a friendly state. Both governments have said they will change their laws so that lese-majeste is no longer an offence.

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The German government has allowed a prosecution against Jan Boehmermann (pictured) to go ahead

Ms Umar was in southern Turkey on holiday when she was arrested. On Saturday night, she tweeted (in Dutch) that police were at her door.

She was taken to the nearby resort of Kusadasi for questioning.

Last week, the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam had urged Turks in the Netherlands to report insults to Turkey or its president.

The consulate later withdrew its call after it was criticised by Dutch MPs and Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Mr Rutte said (in Dutch) he had been in contact with Ms Umar since her arrest.

Ms Umar was detained as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and an EU delegation were in Turkey for talks about the implementation of an agreement on migration.

Under the deal, Turkey will take back some migrants who have crossed illegally into the EU. In return, the EU will liberalise visa rules for Turkish nationals.

Freedom of the press in Turkey

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  • Turkey ranks 149th amongst the 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index 2015
  • Media organisations in Turkey say that more than 30 journalists are currently behind bars
  • Most are of Kurdish origin
  • The government argues journalism in Turkey is among the most free in the world

Press freedom ‘a major concern’

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