Tuesday 20 August 2019

Rotterdam woman must stay in Turkey pending terrorism trial

A Rotterdam woman who was arrested during a holiday in Turkey on suspicion of being a member of the banned Kurdish PKK group has been released from jail but refused permission to leave the country.

The woman, 31, who was travelling with her baby, was arrested on 5 April at Istanbul airport when she was on her way home. She has been held in custody since then.

The next sitting will take place in October. If found guilty, she could face up to 15 years in jail.

‘It is too bizarre for words,’ her husband told the AD after the hearing. ‘My wife involved with a terrorist organisation. She does volunteer work because she is socially active.’

In Rotterdam she works for Demned, an organisation for Dutch Kurds and In 2015 and 2016 she was involved in talks between Rotterdam mayour Ahmed Aboutaleb and Turkish and Kurdish groups, the AD said.

Representatives from the Dutch diplomatic mission in Turkey, who have been active behind the scenes to get the woman freed, were also at the hearing, the AD said.

The case is not the first to affect Dutch Turks who have gone on holiday to Turkey. In July, a Socialist Party councillor from Eindhoven was cleared of making propaganda for the terrorist group through statements on social media.

Murat Memis was arrested on 30th April during a holiday, had his passport confiscated and after four days in jail was released but forbidden from leaving the country. He told the Volkskrant at the time that ‘they have decided that I am a member of the PKK on the basis of my tweets.’

Travel advice

In mid May, the Dutch foreign ministry amended its travel advice for Turkey. The new position warned holidaymakers that their phones and other electronic apparatus can be confiscated if officials think there may be a connection to organisations considered terrorist.

In addition, the authorities have the power to act if people make comments on social media or elsewhere which are considered unacceptable by the government. ‘Take this into account if you are travelling to Turkey,’ the recommendations state.

According to the AD almost 20 other Dutch Turks are currently in Turkish jails.

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