(Adds Turkish presidency statement)
AMSTERDAM, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Turkey said on Thursday it had deported a journalist working for the largest Dutch financial newspaper, Het Financieele Dagblad, after it received information from Dutch police that she had links to “a designated terrorist organization”.
The newspaper defended its journalist, Ans Boersma, calling her expulsion a “flagrant violation of press freedom”.
“Ans did her work prudently and responsibly... It’s extraordinarily sad that journalists in Turkey can’t do their work in peace,” FD editor-in-chief Jan Bonjer wrote in the paper.
Dutch national police declined to comment. All Dutch authorities referred calls on the matter to the national prosecutor’s office where spokespeople were not immediately available.
Turkish officials initially said that Boersma’s deportation was not linked to her work as a journalist, before saying it was due to “suspected terrorism links”.
The office of President Tayyip Erdogan then issued a statement that Turkish authorities had received Dutch police intelligence saying Boersma “had links to a designated terrorist organization (as well as) a request for information about her movements in and out of Turkey.”
Boersma had been visiting an immigration office in Istanbul to extend her visa on Wednesday when she was detained, her paper (FD) said. “And suddenly you’re sitting in the airplane back to the Netherlands,” Boersma said in a tweet on Thursday. “I’ve been “declared an ‘undesirable person’ in Turkey.”
Terrorism-related investigations in Turkey often cite alleged links to Kurdish militants or the network of a U.S.-based Islamic preacher accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.
Boersma, 31, began working as a correspondent in Turkey in 2017 and had previously been a journalism teacher.
Her recent articles for FD included stories about inflation and Istanbul’s new airport, as well as an analysis that said Erdogan was using the Oct. 2 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to boost his international standing.
An FD story on the deportation noted that Boersma had recently secured a renewal of her press credentials for 2019 and said this made her abrupt removal all the more odd.
Turkey, the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, ranks 157th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders.
The Netherlands and Turkey recently restored diplomatic relations after a turbulent 2017 in which the Dutch government blocked Turkish politicians from campaigning among Dutch Turks ahead of Turkey’s constitutional referendum. (Reporting by Toby Sterling in Amsterdam with additional reporting by Daren Butler and Dominic Evans in Turkey Editing by Mark Heinrich)