ROME (Reuters) - An Italian journalist who was detained in Turkey two weeks ago while doing research for a book was released on Monday and flown straight back to Italy.
Gabriele Del Grande was arrested on April 9 close to Turkey’s border with Syria. His detention caused strains between Rome and Ankara, with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano intervening directly to try to secure his release.
“I did not suffer any violence and not a hair on my head was touched,” Del Grande told reporters after arriving at Bologna airport, where he was met by Alfano.
“(However) I was the victim of institutional violence and I believe what happened to me was illegal,” he added. Del Grande writes a blog Fortress Europe which focuses on efforts by migrants to reach Europe.
Turkey’s relations with Germany have also been strained by, among other things, the detention since February of a Turkish-German journalist accused by President Tayyip Erdogan of being a terrorist agent.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a press freedom group based in New York, at least 81 journalists were imprisoned in Turkey last year, many after a failed attempt by the military to topple Erdogan.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by Ralph Boulton