11:15 GMT +322 July 2019
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    Ataturk Airport, Istanbul

    Without Explanation, American Journalist Denied Entry Into Turkey

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    After refusing entry to Sputnik’s Turkish bureau chief last week, the Turkish government has now set its sights on American reporter, forcing him from the country on Monday.

    "A member of the border control took my passport and escorted me to the arrivals screening point, where I was kept for about an hour without explanation," Sputnik Turkey’s bureau chief Tural Kerimov said last week.

    "Then he gave me a paper that says that I’m a passenger whose entry is prohibited in Turkey. The paper doesn’t contain any explanation."

    Kerimov’s experience is one that becoming alarmingly common for foreign reporters operating within Turkey as the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cracks down on press freedoms.

    On Monday, David Lepeska, an American reporter who has written for the Guardian, Al Jazeera, and Foreign Affairs became the latest journalist singled out by Ankara.

    While passing through Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Lepeska was stopped by immigration officers who informed him that an "entry ban" had been placed on his visa. The journalist waited for clearance for 20 hours but was ultimately told to return to the United States or Italy, from where he had arrived.

    "I’ve been given no reason for the entry ban nor confirmation that this status is lasting or permanent," he said, according to Raw Story.

    When reached for comment, a senior Turkish official said that Lepeska did not have the proper press credentials and was not employed by a media company.

    "Individuals who go through the proper legal channels do not face similar problems," the official said.

    The Turkish government has detained a number of foreign journalists in recent months. Last fall, two Vice News reporters were arrested, charged with "aiding a terrorist organization," and ultimately deported.

    On Saturday night, Dutch journalist Ebru Umar was prevented from leaving the country. A frequent critic of President Erdogan, she was arrested and brought before a judge.

    On Sunday, she tweeted that she was "free but forbidden from leaving the country."

    While Lepeska may be barred from entry into Turkey for the time being, he remains hopeful that he will one day be allowed to return.

    "This is not the last I will see of you, Turkey," he wrote on Instagram. "My love for you is deep, thanks mainly to the steady stream of lovely lively people I met here. Be well, Istanbul."

    Related:

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    Turkey Watchdog: 'Banning Sputnik Bureau Head Violates Press Freedom'
    Erdogan Expresses Regret Over Obama's Criticism of Press Freedom in Turkey
    Tags:
    press freedom, Vice News, Sputnik News, Ebru Umar, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Tural Kerimov, David Lepeska, Turkey, United States
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