Dutch journalist says she was deported from Iraqi Kurdistan

A Dutch journalist said she was deported from Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan on Wednesday, blaming her expulsion on Turkey’s reaction to her coverage of an outlawed Kurdish party.

Frederike Geerdink covers Kurdish and political issues in Turkey for Dutch media. Her Twitter bio touts her inside knowledge of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — a pro-Kurdish group designated a “terrorist” organisation by Ankara and its Western allies.

Geerdink tweeted Wednesday that she was on her way to Kobane, a Kurdish-majority town in Syria near the Turkish border, when she was stopped by authorities.

“I am being deported from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. I almost crossed the border into northeast Syria when suddenly… I was put in a car with police and brought to Erbil airport, where I’m now,” Geerdink said.

“Erdogan’s arm is long,” she said, blaming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The journalist was detained by Turkey in January 2015 for “distributing terrorist propaganda” for the PKK rebels.

In September of the same year, Geerdink was arrested again while covering clashes between the Turkish army and PKK rebels. An official said she had entered a restricted zone, and she was subsequently deported.

Her expulsion from Turkey drew condemnation from the Dutch Association of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists, who called the actions of the Turkish government “very alarming and contrary to international law”.

Geerdink took aim at authorities in Kurdistan on Wednesday over her removal.

“It is utterly sad that the authorities in the Kurdistan region in Iraq are so afraid of a woman with a pen,” she tweeted, adding that local journalists “are being jailed more often than ever”.

According to a foreign ministry spokesperson quoted by the Dutch news agency ANP, the consul general in Erbil is in “close contact” with the journalist.

“We believe that journalists should be able to do their work anywhere in the world, that’s why we have stressed the importance of press freedom,” he said.

The Dutch ambassador in Baghdad has also contacted the Iraqi foreign minister about the matter, according to ANP.


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