A reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Turkey was detained, barred access to a lawyer and threatened with deportation, the newspaper said on Saturday, adding to the growing number of journalists arrested and detained in an already harsh government crackdown on press freedom.
Reporter Dion Nissenbaum, a 49-year-old U.S. citizen, was taken from his home in Istanbul on Tuesday evening, after which he was held in a detention facility for nearly three days. He was not allowed to contact his family, nor did he have access to a lawyer, the newspaper said. His ordeal marked a rare instance in which a reporter for a U.S. publication was detained.
Nissenbaum was released Friday morning and left Turkey for the United States on Saturday. An order for his deportation had been dropped, Nissenbaum said on Twitter.
“Thanks for the well wishes!” he posted on Saturday. Nissenbaum and his wife, he said, “are heading to the U.S. after a very trying ordeal.”
His detention is believed to be linked to a government ban on posting or publishing images from an Islamic State video released last week, according to a statement from the Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones.
The video purportedly shows the immolation of two Turkish soldiers who had been captured by the Islamic militants in Syria. Turkey has sent troops to the war-torn country to support opposition fighters and clear the border from Islamic State militants.
Turkish authorities moved swiftly to ban coverage of the images, and Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus warned journalists and others not to share the video.
“There is no confirmed information from the Turkish Armed Forces for the National Defense Ministry concerning this video,” Kurtulmus said last week, according to the Associated Press, adding that sharing the images would “demoralize the Turkish public.”
A Turkish official declined a request for comment on Nissenbaum’s detention, and it was unclear Saturday why authorities accused him of violating the ban. Nissenbaum was asked to sign a document in Turkish on his first night in custody, according to the Journal’s account of his detention.
“The document showed his Twitter handle and some personal information,” the newspaper wrote.
The incident was the latest in a series of government attacks on journalists and media outlets, although it is rare for Turkey to persecute foreign media.
In the wake of a failed coup last summer, the government has shuttered more than 100 local outlets. According to global press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders, 81 journalists are currently imprisoned in Turkey.
“While we are relieved that Dion was released unharmed after nearly three days, we remain outraged at his peremptory detention, without any contact with his family, legal counsel or colleagues,” Gerard Baker, the Journal’s editor in chief, said in a statement Saturday.
THE WASHINGTON POST