Geerdink had been assiduously reporting for various high-profile international outlets on one of the most contentious issues in Turkey – that of the Kurdish minority. Turkish authorities threw out the correspondent in September 2015, and banned her from re-entering the country.
Since Geerdink works as a freelancer rather than on fixed contract with any one news organisation, she is unable to cover additional legal costs. The ECPMF is contributing €1000 to her case as her attorney, Ramazan Demir, appeals the Turkish authorities’ decision.
Although she could count on backing by Dutch and European diplomacy as the Turkish government persecuted her, “there’s only so much they can do” amid the rising climate of oppression in the country, Geerdink said.
She still considers herself lucky as a foreigner in comparison with what local journalists in Turkey have had to face. But there is definitely an increasing crackdown on foreign correspondents under the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regime.
I thought Erdoğan didn’t really want to have a fight with the EU on media freedom. But this proved Erdoğan doesn’t really care about what Europe thinks.”
No longer safe
Geerdink recounts that in 2013, Turkey refused to renew her press card, and EU parliamentarians intervened on her behalf and “solved the problem”. But the situation escalated in January 2015, when she was detained on allegations of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” via her columns for Diken, an independent Turkish news website.
At the time, the Dutch minister of foreign affairs demanded her release, and she was let go and acquitted. Turkish authorities then proceeded to appeal the court decision, and she could still be sentenced to up to five years in prison in the country.