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Netherlands working to secure return of dual nationals unable to leave Turkey

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Dutch officials are engaged in efforts to secure the return to the Netherlands of between 10 and 100 Dutch nationals of Turkish descent who are being prevented from leaving Turkey mainly due to their critical views of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

Some of the stranded dual nationals are also reported to be followers of the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.

“We are obviously doing everything we can to assist these people,” Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said in a statement, adding that he had raised the issue at the highest levels in Ankara, according to Agence France Presse.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman said that “about 10 people have been handed travel bans, some of whom have been in Turkey for a while now.”

“We are in touch with the Turkish authorities and are doing our best to assist them through the Dutch embassy in Ankara” to return them to the Netherlands, spokeswoman Daphne Kerremans told AFP, but declined to give further details.

Dutch national broadcaster NOS claimed on Thursday night that “certainly ten and perhaps up to 100 people” of dual nationality have had their passage home blocked in the run-up to a constitutional referendum that would switch Turkey’s system of governance to an executive presidency and bestow sweeping powers on Erdoğan. Many were visiting family or on holiday, and some are now facing judicial procedures, according to NOS.

It has become a common occurrence in the post-coup period that Turkey cancels the passports of dissidents including academics, journalists, lawyers, judges and businessmen.

Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands recently became strained when The Hague refused to allow two Turkish ministers into the country to hold political rallies ahead of Turkey’s upcoming referendum.

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