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Turkey Condemned for Expelling Greek Journalist

Greek journalist Evangelos Areteos. Photo: Evangelos Areteos/Facebook

There has been widespread condemnation of Ankara’s decision to expel veteran Greek journalist Evangelos Areteos, who has been covering Turkey for more than two decades, on security grounds.

Turkey has come under criticism after deporting Evangelos Areteos, a journalist working for Greek news outlet Real, on August 25 and forbidding him from returning, citing “public order” concerns.

Gurkan Ozturan, coordinator of Media Freedom Rapid Response at the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, said that the decision should be reversed.

“Setting up barriers against media freedom is unacceptable. We call upon Turkish authorities to lift this restriction and allow journalists and media organisations to operate freely and to allow the people in Turkey and Europe to enjoy their right to access information and news,” Ozturan told BIRN.

Areteos wrote on Monday on Twitter that he believes he was deported because of a reporting trip he made to northern Syria in 2015 and his travels and connections throughout Turkey.

He described the Turkish decision to deport him as “a deeply saddening development that leaves me with grief”.

“After 23 years, during which I lived for eight years and then travelled and worked in Turkey, the Turkish authorities decided to deport me and forbade me to return for reasons of ‘public order’,” he said.

The decision has also been condemned by other media freedom organisations.

“Greek journalist Evangelos Areteos’ long history working in Turkey should not come to an unceremonious end due to authorities’ disapproval of his work,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, programme director at the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.

“Authorities must allow Areteos to return to Turkey, where he should be able to report freely and without fear of retaliation,” de la Serna added.

“The expulsion of Areteos, the writer of the Greek-based daily Real, from Turkey, where he has lived for many years, sadly points to the threshold of the [Turkish] authorities’ intolerance for criticism,” Erol Onderoglu, Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders, wrote on Twitter.

Areteos is well known on both sides of the Aegean Sea. As well as working for Real, he is a non-resident research fellow at the Diplomatic Academy of the University of Nicosia, Cyprus and a research associate with Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy’s Turkey programme, a think-tank based in Athens.

Alexandra Voudouri, a Greek journalist and analyst with and Athina 9,84FM told BIRN that Areteos’ work has been invaluable for “bridging” Greek and Turkish societies, “something that is missing nowadays”.

“And what is really sad is that Turkey is essentially ‘burning’ this bridge as well,” Voudouri said.

Turkish political scientist Seren Selvin Korkmaz expressed a similar opinion.

“While the government builds a wall around itself, it also closes Turkey to the world,” Korkmaz wrote on Twitter.

“Journalist Areteos has been travelling to Turkey for 23 years and reporting meticulously, he was also trying to break the prejudices about Turkish society. The government has proven itself by expelling him,” she said.

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