Turkey denies entry to New York Times reporter

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Rod Nordland

The New York Times reported that Turkey denied entry to one of its veteran reporters, Rod Nordland, at İstanbul Atatürk Airport on Tuesday, with no reason offered by officials as to why he was not allowed to enter the country.

The reporter was forced to take a flight back to London amid Turkey’s increasing crackdown against journalists at home.

The New York Times said the action against the correspondent, who has reported from more than 150 countries, including Turkey in December, seems to be part of a broader government crackdown against the domestic and foreign news media.

Nearly 150 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey over alleged charges of terrorism and links to  a failed coup on July 15, 2016.

In the last days of 2016, Wall Street Journal correspondent in İstanbul Don Nissenbaum was held incommunicado for over two days for tweeting about an alleged soldier burning by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Turkey has shut down nearly 200 media outlets as part of the post-coup purge.

Over 10,000 people are currently under investigation for their social media posts.

Pressure on foreign journalists in Turkey has been mounting in recent years, with the government, pro-government journalists and government trolls on social media directly targeting them.

Journalists Frank Nordhausen and Nick Ashdown were targeted by pro-government trolls and media for their tweets reporting on twin bomb attacks in İstanbul immediately after they occurred on Dec. 10.

A campaign on social media was launched by a troll with more than 134,000 followers, @ustakiloyunlari, who wrote, “These journalists, like agents, were aware of the attacks,” with a photoshopped picture showing the time of the journalists’ tweets after the blasts.

“#Turkey – Because I reported the Istanbul blast yesterday on Twitter I am now the aim of a terrible shitstorm by Turkish nationalists,” said Nordhausen in response to the campaign.

Ashdown tried to inform Twitter about the campaign, writing: “Dear @twitter, this account is accusing foreign journalists in Turkey of being agents, resulting in threats from his many followers.”

“Shameless, immoral, treason,” said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of an article by New York Times reporter Ceylan Yeginsu about the recruitment of Turkish citizens by ISIL.

After CNN’s Ivan Watson was detained during a live broadcast from the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul in 2013, Erdoğan accused him of “working like a spy.”

Erdoğan also went after the Economist’s Turkey correspondent, Amberin Zaman, for her remarks on a TV show: “Shameless militant disguised under the name of a journalist.”

Selin Girit, a host on the BBC’s Turkish service, was another journalist targeted by Erdoğan, who said, “Part of a conspiracy against her own country.”

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu attacked French journalist Olivier Bertrand, who was deported by Turkey in November after three days of detention, saying he was sent to Turkey to stir up unrest on the Syrian border.

Two Swedish journalists were also temporarily detained by police in November in the Kurdish southeastern province of Diyarkabır.

Lindsey Snell, an American freelance journalist detained by Turkish security forces on Aug. 7 as she crossed into Turkey from Syria and accused of having illegally entered a restricted military zone, was released in October after two months’ detention in Turkey.

Finnish journalist and writer Taina Niemela was deported from Turkey in April on charges that she had been involved in “spying activities.”

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