Dutch journalist to be prosecuted in Turkey on propaganda claim

Fréderike Geerdink (Picture: Twitter/@kencampbell66)Fréderike Geerdink (Picture: Twitter/@kencampbell66)

Fréderike Geerdink, the Dutch journalist living in Turkey who was taken in for questioning in January, may be facing a prison sentence of between 1 and 5 years. The Public Prosecutor in Diyarbakir is prosecuting her for "making propaganda for a terrorist organization". 

Geerding, who works for several Dutch news agencies including Het Parool and The Independent, lives in Diyarbakir and specializes int the hotly contested Kurdish issue. Geerdink is to appear in court for the first time on April 8th. On January 6th the journalist was arrested by the Turkish police and taken for questioning. The arrest happened on the same day that Minister Bert Koenders (Foreign Affairs) was in Ankara for consultations. The minister immediately turned to the Turkish government and diplomats and expressed his displeasure. "That Geerdink is free again is good news, but press freedom in Turkey will remain an important focus for the Netherlands and the European Union. Intimidation of journalists is unacceptable", Koenders said in Akara after Geerdink's release.

According to Thomas Bruning, the Secretary General of the journalist union NVJ, it is "absurd" that Geerdink will still be prosecuted. Geerdink is a "professional journalist just doing her job". The NVJ will ensure that she gets "the best possible legal representation".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of Geerdink's situation. The Dutch embassy in Ankara is in contact with her and is following the case, said the department. Opposition parties CDA, SP and D66 is advocating for new action from Koenders. The SP wants Koenders to ensure good legal advice and that Geerdink gets a fair trial.

Geerdest is the newest victim of the Turkish war against journalism. According to Professor Howard Eissenstat, country expert for Turkey at the American department of human rights organization Amnesty International, her prosecution is not surprising. He attributes the increase in the number of cases against journalists to the politicization of the judiciary and a series of laws making it easier the deal with people who make critical statements of the state.