US warns against travel to Turkey due to ‘terrorism and arbitrary detentions’

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US Department of State building.

The US Department of State renewed its Travel Advisory for Turkey on Thursday, suggesting citizens reconsider travel to the country due to “terrorism and arbitrary detentions.”

In addition to its standing warning against travel to areas along the Turkey-Syria border and the southeastern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, Tunceli, Hakkari and Bitlis due to terrorism, the department also says: “Under the State of Emergency, security forces have detained tens of thousands of individuals, including U.S. citizens, suspected of affiliation with alleged terrorist organizations based on scant or secret evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated. U.S. citizens have also been subject to travel bans that prevent them from departing Turkey.”

Following a coup attempt in 2016, Turkey has cracked down on dissent in the country, suspending or dismissing more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since the failed putsch as well as subjecting more than 170,000 people to legal proceedings on coup charges as of December.

Legal cases against American citizens detained in Turkey, most notably a pastor named Andrew Brunson who is being tried on terrorism charges — accusations the cleric strongly denies — have strained relations between Turkey and the US in recent years. Some two dozen Americans have been detained in Turkey, many of them dual nationals. Three employees of US missions in Turkey have also been arrested on terrorism charges.

“Participation in gatherings, protests, and demonstrations not explicitly approved by the Government of Turkey can result in detention or arrest,” the advisory also warned.

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