Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink was arrested in Turkey on Tuesday after several police officers raided her home in Diyarbakir, the country's biggest Kurdish city, where she was the only permanently based foreign journalist. Geerdink tweeted as she was being arrested and said she was being charged with writing "propaganda for a terrorist organization."
terrorism police just searched my house, team of 8 guys. they take me to the station now. charge: 'propaganda for terrorist organization'
â€” Frederike Geerdink (@fgeerdink) January 6, 2015
Geerdink writes about Kurdish affairs. She is also the author of the blog Kurdish Matters, dealing with the minority pouplation. The Turkish government has for decades fought both politically and militarily with the Kurdish minority population in the eastern part of the country. It has designated the Kurdistan's Workers Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization. The U.S. has also identified the PKK as a terrorist group.
The story of her arrest was reported almost entirely online via social media. Within two hours of her original message, Geerdink's tweet was retweeted 2,500 times. It was not immediately clear where Geerdink was taken or when she might be released, though some messages on Twitter suggested she would be released soon.
Head of Diyarbakir Bars Assoc tweets: Dutch journo @fgeerdink, under interrogation by police, may be released in the next couple of hours.
— Zeynep Erdim (@zeynep_erdim) January 6, 2015
For the past several weeks the Turkish government has increased its crackdown on the media. Several Turkish journalists have been questioned for their work and some Turkish news organizations have been raided. In the beginning of December Turkish police raided the offices of media outlets linked to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is openly against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Despite the attacks on the media, Erdoğan has said publicly that the press in Turkey has full freedom.
In December Erdoğan slammed European countries for criticizing Turkey for its press freedom. In a televised address in Ankara, Erdoğan claimed that "the press is so free in Turkey that one can make insults, slanders, defamation, racism and commit hate crimes that are not tolerated even in democratic countries," according to the AFP news agency.
Freedom House gave Turkey a status of "partly free" in 2013 in regards to press freedom, claiming that "restrictive laws has led to the imprisonment of dozens of journalists and writers in recent years."