The International Press Institute (IPI),a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today condemned the deportation of Turkish Cypriot journalist Ali Kişmir from Turkey due to an “entry ban”.

On October 10, Kişmir, the head of the Turkish Cypriot Press Trade Union, was briefly detained at Istanbul Airport and then deported from Turkey due to an “entry ban”. Kişmir was on his way back from the annual meeting of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) in Croatia.

Kişmir, who was planning to enter Turkey to to take a PCR test, found out about the entry ban while attempting to pass through passport control.

“When I came to the passport control point to get PCR test, they told me that I was banned from entering the country and transferred me to the area of deportation. Later on, my bag was checked and my photos and fingerprints were taken. An airline official accompanied me to my next flight to Northern Cyprus and I was the last person to got on the plane, as if I were a terrorist”,he told IPI.

The decision to deny entrance to Kişmir on “national security” grounds follows recent entry bans against at least two other Turkish Cypriot public figures, Ali Bizden and Ahmet An, whose cases elicited strong reactions inside both Northern Cyprus and Turkey.

According to Kişmir, the reason for his inclusion on the so-called “prohibited Turkish Cypriots list” is his journalistic activities.

“I think the real reason behind this situation is my articles, which were found very harsh by the Turkish government, and my support for TRNC presidential candidate Mustafa Akıncı”, he said.

According to independent reporting, some intellectuals and politicians in Northern Cyprus have faced threats due to their support for former President Mustafa Akıncı, who is opposed by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which support current President Ersin Tatar.

Kişmir had said that he was threatened by a “team from Turkey” before the Northern Cyprus presidential elections that took place on October 11, 2020.

“IPI condemns the deportation from Turkey of Ali Kişmir, which is part of Turkey’s growing harassment of individuals in Northern Cyprus who are critical of Turkey’s AKP-led regime”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said.

“We call on Turkey to immediately provide transparency about banned individuals from Northern Cyprus and to end discriminatory practices based on journalistic activity.”