Turkish police seize passport of Communist party leader at airport

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Erkan Baş, chairman of People's Communist Party of Turkey

The passport of Erkan Baş, chairman of the People’s Communist Party of Turkey (HTKP), was seized by Turkish police at an İstanbul airport on Sunday, Sputnik reported.

According to the report Baş arrived at İstanbul Atatürk Airport in the morning for a flight to Moscow to participate the 100th anniversary celebration of the October Revolution. But police seized Baş’s passport as he went through immigration.

“They used to yell all the time ‘Communist, go to Moscow’ … I tried to go once in 100 years, and they seized my passport, I cannot go, I am at Atatürk Airport,” the HTKP leader tweeted on Sunday morning.

According to a report by the pro-government Sabah daily on July 10, Turkish police have seized 4,806 passports and detained 132 people at İstanbul Atatürk Airport as part of investigations into alleged followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of organizing a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

On June 1, the Turkish government revoked the passport of Levent Tüzel, a former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and Central Executive Board member of the leftist Labor Party (EMEP).

On May 20, Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter’s passport was seized by Romanian police at Henri Coanda Airport upon a request from the Turkish government due to alleged links to the Gülen movement.

On Sept. 5, 2016 the government banned Dilek Dündar, wife of former Editor-in-Chief of the Cumhuriyet daily Can Dündar, from travelling abroad after seizing her passport at an İstanbul airport.

Similarly on Oct. 5 of the same year the government banned journalists Ayşe Yıldırım and Celal Başlangıç from travelling abroad after seizing their passports, also at an airport in İstanbul.

The seizure of passports started in early 2016. In June of that year the passport of Nevin İpek, Koza İpek Holding CEO Akın İpek’s wife, was cancelled after it was allegedly reported lost by someone other than herself.

On Sept. 28, 2016 the passport of former Today’s Zaman reporter Arslan Ayan was confiscated by officials at the Turkish Consulate General in New York City on the grounds that a warrant for his detention was outstanding back in Turkey.

Last year, Belgian police returned the passport of a Turkish citizen since the cancellation of passports by the Turkish government after a July 15 failed coup in Turkey was considered unlawful.

Similarly in April, Romanian police returned the passport of Soner Cesur, a Turkish businessman with investments in Romania, which they seized on March 25 upon a demand made by the Turkish government.

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