British and Turkish authorities in contact over journalist’s airport death

British and Turkish authorities in contact over journalist’s airport death

ANKARA - Reuters
British and Turkish authorities in contact over journalist’s airport death

DHA Photo

British authorities are in touch with their Turkish counterparts after a British journalist was found dead at Istanbul’s main international airport, an embassy official said on Oct. 20. 

Jacky Sutton, 50, was acting Iraq country director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), and died on Sunday en route to Arbil, in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. 

She had been found hanging in the cubicle of a toilet in Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport after apparently missing her connecting flight to Arbil. 

“We’re providing consular assistance to the family, and we’re in touch with the Turkish authorities in relation to the death,” the embassy official told Reuters. 

Friends and colleagues of Sutton, a former BBC journalist, have taken to social media to express shock at her death, also questioning Turkish media suggestions that she committed suicide using her shoelaces after becoming distressed over the missed flight and being unable to afford to buy another ticket. 

“Jacky Sutton was a friend and a warrior for peace. No way she took her own life. Please investigate,” one tweet read. 

CCTV footage widely circulated in the media and purportedly of Sutton’s last moments, showed a woman in a purple jacket and wearing a rucksack, walking through the crowded airport, clutching a shopping bag and not obviously distressed. 

Sutton had taken over her job at IWPR in June following the death of her predecessor, who was killed by a car bomb in Baghdad in May. The institute’s executive director, Anthony Borden, said staff were in “total shock.”

“Jacky was one of the top development professionals working on Iraq, and she devoted nearly ten years of her life to helping the country,” he said in a statement. 

“She was extremely bright, highly competent, and well able to handle herself in difficult environments, and she was universally loved.”

The initial forensic report found that Sutton’s death was caused by suicide. The Bakırköy Public Prosecutor’s Office is also focusing on suicide, on the grounds that the toilet cabin where the British woman was found dead had been locked from the inside. 

Video footage shows that Sutton had waited at the last gate for the bus that takes passengers to the plane, and that after all passengers had left she went to the office to report that she had missed the plane.