Turkish journalist detained in the Netherlands

Turkish journalist Fatih Ozyar was detained for about 15 hours by Dutch police while covering a protest involving Dutch youths of Turkish origin.

Photo by: Daily Sabah
Photo by: Daily Sabah

Turkish journalist Fatih Ozyar giving an interview to A Haber after being released by the Dutch police.

A Turkish journalist working for A Haber TV, a sister media company of Daily Sabah, was detained by Dutch police in the northern town of Zaandam as he was covering a protest.

He was relased 15 hours later.

Journalist Fatih Ozyar said he was in an area where a group of young protesters of mostly Turkish origin were staging a protest on Monday night over being targeted by the Dutch media and police because they supported Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

According to Ozyar, he was there to film detentions of the young protesters but was immediately targeted by the police.

He added, "despite showing my press ID to them, they tried to stop me and forced me to leave the area. When I told them that I had right to cover the incident, they responded by saying 'This is not Turkey, this is the Netherlands, leave the area immediately.' After that, I was handcuffed and taken to a police centre nearby. They kept me in a cell for 15 hours without questioning me or giving me anything to drink. It was torture."

Ozyar claimed he was given no reason for his detention other than that he was at the site of an unauthorised rally.

The incident raises questions about the state of press freedom in the Netherlands, which has been named "one of the freest environments in the world for the media" by press freedom watchdog Freedom House.

"They say ‘There is freedom of the press, freedom of speech in the Netherlands.’ No, there is no freedom of speech, there is no freedom of the press here in the Netherlands. I was detained when I was only trying to do my job."

The demonstration where Ozyar was detained was the latest in a series of protests by a group of Dutch youths of Turkish and Moroccan origin.

A 19-year-old Dutch video blogger, Ismail Ilgun, one of the organisers of the protests, was the only one arrested by the police, as eight others were released after a brief detention. Ilgun and his friends have been targeted by the Dutch media for being supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan..

Following the incident, the International Media Information Association (UMED) in a written statement said, "Informing the public and public access to information is a right and prevention of the media to freely report is a disrespect toward freedom of press and thought. A country's status as a developed country can be measured on how free the press is in that country. Obviously, the Netherlands chose the dark path by censoring the truth. UMED condemns this preposterous stance of the Netherlands."

Dutch authorities made no comment on the detention of Ozyar, who criticised the Dutch police’s detainment of Ilgun in a Facebook post saying, "Since when has the Netherlands view of one's admiration for his/her country of origin a crime? I wonder if these detentions aim to intimidate the public.

"Press freedom should not be a privilege exclusive only to [Dutch media]. You have to give this freedom to others as well."

TRTWorld and agencies