Turkey ‘received intelligence’ from the Netherlands on deported journalist’s terror links: Presidential aide

Turkey ‘received intelligence’ from the Netherlands on deported journalist’s terror links: Presidential aide

ANKARA

Ans Boersma

Freelance Dutch journalist Johanna Cornelia (Ans) Boersma was deported on Jan. 17 due to suspected “links with a designated terrorist organization,” a Turkish official has said, adding that intelligence about her activities was provided by the Dutch police.

“I regret to inform you that Johanna Cornelia Boersma, a freelance reporter for the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, was deported this morning,” Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish Presidency’s communications director, said in a written statement on Jan. 17.

Boersma’s deportation was in no way related to her journalistic activities during her stay in Turkey, he stated, adding “Turkish authorities have recently received intelligence from the Dutch police that Ms. Boersma had links to a designated terrorist organization and a request for information about her movements in and out of Turkey.”

Altun, later in a Twitter post, said the Dutch authorities had said the reporter had links to the Nusra Front, a former affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria.

"If a credible foreign gov't agency tells you that one of their citizens has links to terrorism, you don't take any chances. The Dutch authorities alone are in a position to explain why they arrived at that conclusion. We won't speculate on the credibility of their intelligence," he said.

Jeichien de Graaff, a spokeswoman for the Dutch National Public Prosecutor’s Office, said that prosecutors asked for information from Turkish authorities as part of a terror investigation and passed on information about Boersma. 

"She is not personally believed to have been involved in a terrorist crime, but is a person of interest in a wider investigation into several suspects," de Graaff said, adding that Dutch authorities did not ask Turkey to deport her. "We would very much like to talk to her."

The deportation of the journalist was first announced by her newspaper, the Dutch financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad. Boersma, the Istanbul correspondent of the daily, was taken to a repatriation center on Jan. 16 when she went to an immigration center to extend her residence permit, it reported.

Turkey deports Dutch journalist

“Ans did her work sensibly and responsibly. This measure is a flagrant violation of press freedom,” Jan Bonjer, chief editor of Het Financieele Dagblad, said.

After spending the night at the repatriation center, she was taken to the airport for a morning flight to the Netherlands.

Boersma’s collegues in Istanbul said the journalist left with just a backpack and the clothes she had on.

On Jan. 8, she was given a press card in Turkey valid until Jan. 31.

Altun, in his message, said terror groups had carried out deadly attacks against Turkish citizens in the past, killing more than 2,000 people.

“Due to the seriousness of the threat, we work closely with our friends and allies, including the Netherlands, and rely on their insights to identify and neutralize threats against Turkish and European security. Until now, the Turkish authorities, with help from their international partners, have blacklisted tens of thousands of individuals with links to terrorist organizations as part of an ongoing effort to combat extremism,” he stated.