Turkey condemned for deportation of journalist featured often in People’s World
Turkey's President and ruling Justice and Development Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is silhouetted as he addresses his supporters after the results of the local elections were announced in Ankara, Turkey. | Morning Star

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the United Kingdom has condemned Turkish authorities for deporting the Morning Star’s international editor on Friday.

Steve Sweeney, writer for Britain’s left-wing news publication, Morning Star, was barred from entering Turkey to cover the country’s local elections, which have been marred by allegations of voter fraud.

After landing in Istanbul his phone was confiscated by Turkish police who detained Mr. Sweeney incommunicado for around 30 hours before they deported him.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Steve Sweeney should have the right to carry out his job as a journalist and not be denounced in a trumped-up accusation of being a security threat.

“Journalists should be able to carry out their work in Turkey without fear of intimidation and persecution.”

The NUJ’s concerns were echoed by the International Federation of Journalists, which said: “We utterly condemn the Turkish authorities and Steve’s deportation — it is yet another example of their flagrant violation of human and workers rights.”

Pen International executive director Carles Torner also condemned Turkey.

“Instead of expelling foreign journalists, the Turkish authorities should show they have nothing to hide by granting them unfettered access, including during pivotal moments such as elections,” he said.

“The authorities should abide by their international commitments to uphold media freedom and stop interfering with news organizations once and for all.”

And a spokesperson from English PEN said: “We are very concerned by reports that British journalist Steve Sweeney has been deported from Turkey where he had traveled to cover last weekend’s local elections.

“Sweeney is one of many international journalists and activists to have traveled to Turkey in recent years, both to report on his findings and to show solidarity with journalists on the ground, many of whom have been similarly detained.

“Journalists — both those from Turkey and their international colleagues — must be allowed to report freely, especially on matters of such clear public interest as elections.”

The European Federation of Journalists and Index on Censorship have also criticized Turkey over the deportation.

Index on Censorship editor Rachael Jolley said: “The Foreign Office should be alert to the fact that international journalists going into Turkey are being prevented from reporting as in the case of Steve Sweeney.”

Since speaking out about his deportation in this paper, Mr. Sweeney has received death threats from supporters of the Turkish government who have trolled him on social media.

One Instagram troll e_sahinog_lu said: “If you ever come back to this country, I’ll f**k your queen. I’ll cut off your head too.”

Turkey is the world’s worst jailer of journalists, who have been relentlessly targeted by Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr. Sweeney has covered the crack-down closely for the Morning Star, earning him a reputation as a seasoned observer of Turkish and Kurdish politics.

Peace in Kurdistan said: “We would like to thank Steve for the amazing contribution he has made in reporting fairly and accurately on the political situation in Turkey over years.”

The Turkish embassy and Britain’s Foreign Office have been approached for comment.

This article originally appeared in Morning Star.


Phil Miller
Phil Miller

An investigative journalist and producer. His reporting on British special forces has triggered two government inquiries. He has written freelance pieces for most UK national papers including The Times and the Guardian. He currently works as a news reporter for the Morning Star and contributes to New Internationalist, Private Eye, Vice and other publications.