Police in Turkey detained a Dutch columnist over a tweet she posted that was deemed ‘critical’ of Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
Ebru Umar a well know journalist of Turkish origin, was arrested at her home in Kusadasi, a resort town in western Turkey, early on Sunday and brought before a judge.
A political storm erupted last week over reports that the Turkish consulate had requested that Turkish organisations in the Netherlands to forward emails and social media posts that insult Erdoğan or Turkey.
On Saturday, the Turkish police detained her at the resort of Kusadasi and seized her laptop, the newspaper reported.
Umar told Metro she was questioned about critical tweets about the Turkish president. Later Sunday, Umar was released, but not allowed to leave the country. “Free but under country arrest,” she said in the first tweet in 15 hours since her arrest.
The spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry confirmed to RT that Umar was released by the Turkish authorities: “She is released, but she has to stay in Turkey and report herself on a regular basis to the authorities. So, she is no longer being held in custody, but she is not free to go where she wants to be.” The spokesman has given no details, but said that Umar was reached by the Dutch PM and the foreign minister earlier today.
“Under the circumstances, she’s doing fine. She’s being treated in a respectful way [despite] being arrested during the night and taken to a police station.” Umar is currently being assisted by the Dutch Honorary Consulate in Izmir as well as a lawyer found by the foreign ministry, the spokesman added.
In her Twitter feed Umar recently engaged in spirited exchanges with her critics. One of the tweets she reposted said the author had reported her to the police.
It comes amid public outcry in the Netherlands over a letter sent by a Turkish consulate to its citizens asking to report insults to the Turkish leader they encounter.
— MFA The Netherlands (@DutchMFA) April 24, 2016
The Turkish authorities have launched some 2,000 lawsuits against people accused of insulting Erdogan.
Born to a Turkish family in The Hague, Umar is known as an outspoken critic of fundamentalist Islam, first in columns for the website of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh, who she called a close friend and a mentor, and later in a number of local newspapers. In 2004, van Gogh was murdered by a radical Islamist after making a controversial 10-minute film “Submission,” telling about violence against women in some Islamic societies, and a year later Umar took over his column in Metro.
As a columnist, Umar also contributes to women’s magazine Libelle and the Dutch feminist magazine Opzij. She is a regular guest on Dutch TV panels on Muslim-related issues.