Fmr. Dutch MEP arrested at Istanbul airport, returned to Amsterdam

no image
No image availableNL Times

Former Dutch European Parliamentarian Joost Langendijk (GroenLinks) was arrested upon landing at Istanbul airport on Sunday and is currently on a flight back to Amsterdam. The Turkish authorities refused to allow him into his hometown of Istanbul, the Volkskrant reports after a telephone conversation with Langendijk.

During a two-hour long interrogation, the Turkish police informed Langendijk that he now needs a "special visa" to enter the country, for which he must apply at the Turkish embassy in The Hague. According to them, this is a "new measure", Langendijk told the newspaper. "Questions followed by long intervals with the conclusion that I am no longer allowed in the country", he said about the interrogation on Sunday. "I am now sitting ina waiting area with some Iraqi asylum seekres who are also not welcome here."

Langendijk himself believes this had to do with his work with newspaper Zaman and the Suleyman Shah University in Istanbul. Zaman was taken over by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party AKP after an attempted military coup in the country in July. And the Suleyman Shah University is closed on suspicion of affiliation with cleric Fethullah Gulen, the mastermind behind the attempted coup, according to Erdogan.

The former MEP plans to go to the Turkish Embassy in The Hague immediately after landing in the Netherlands on Monday. He will apply for the "special visa" the Turkish authorities claim he need.s. "Then I'll see if the paper exists at all", he said to the Volkskrant. "I don't know whether what's happening now is a matter of fucked up harassment or the harbinger of something more serious, that I'll never be allowed in Turkey again." Langedijk's phone was confiscated shortly after his conversation with the Volkskrant, according to the newspaper.

Langedijk's arrest comes at a time that Turkey and the European Union is negotiating on lifting the visa requirements for Turks visiting the EU. The European Parliament still has to approve the measure. It is unclear what effect the arrest of the former European Parliamentarian will have on the negotiations.

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver called on the Dutch government to make "an urgent appeal" on Ankara to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.