Ebru Umar, a well-known Dutch journalist of Turkish origin, has been released after being briefly detained by Turkish police on April 23 for allegedly insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Last week, Umar wrote an article in the Dutch free newspaper Metro criticizing a Turkish consular official in the Netherlands after it sent an email asking all Turks and Turkish organizations in the Netherlands to report incidents of insults against Erdogan in the EU country.
According to NL Times, Umar criticized every Dutch-Turk which supported the call from the Turkish consulate and said that their task reminded the tactics of the NSB (a former fascist party in the Netherlands, ed). Moreover, she said that Erdogan acts as a “Sultan” and he is the “biggest megalomaniac dictator that Turkey’s known since the founding of the republic in 1923.”
Umar tweeted an extract from her Metro piece and later she tweeted that police came in front of her house in the Kuşadası district of the coastal province of Aydın. The journalist spent the night in jail and on Sunday she was released but she now has to report twice the week at police station, as she is banned from leaving the country.
In her Twitter account she said that the police treated her with respect and when a follower ask her if she is a toy of anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders, as officials from the Turkish government claim, she replied: “I’m nobody’s toy, never have never will. If I owe anyone anything its … Dutch embassy.”
When Umar was detained a spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry had said that the Dutch authorities “are following the situation closely” and they “are in contact with her.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke to the journalist on Saturday after she was taken to the police station. “I had telephone contact with Ebr Umar last night. Our embassy is in close contact with her for assistance. Koenders and Foreign Affairs are on top of it”, he tweeted.
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk praised the Turkish government at a visit in Turkey. When asked about the deteriorating media freedom in Turkey, Merkel said that “important values including freedom of the press and opinion, will continue to be important for us (meaning the EU).”
The German government was criticized by the German public, when the German authorities decided to give in to the Turkish request to prosecute German comedian Jan Böhmermann for mocking Erdogan.
In March, it was reported by the Turkish Justice Ministry that it allowed 1,845 cases on charges of insulting Erdogan to go ahead since 2014. However, in the recent weeks, the Turkish authorities are trying to expand their investigations in the EU taking advantage of laws which forbid intentional defamation of foreign leaders.
The Dutch government is considering abolishing the law, which according to NL Times, it was used in few cases over the last century. In the 1930’s three Dutch were prosecuted for insulting Adolf Hitler and in 1966 (during the Cold War) an Amsterdam student was sentenced to two weeks in prison for insulting American president Lyndon Johnson.