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24 Apr, 2016 09:29

Dutch columnist detained in Turkey ‘over Erdogan tweet’

The Turkish police have detained a Dutch columnist over a critical tweet she posted about Turkish President Recep Erdogan, her newspaper said. The woman intends to go back to the Netherlands after being released.

Ebru Umar is a Dutch columnist of Turkish origin, who writes for several newspapers, including Metro. On Saturday, the Turkish police detained her at the resort of Kusadasi and seized her laptop, the newspaper reported.

Umar told Metro she was questioned about critical tweets about the Turkish president. Later Sunday, Umar was released, but not allowed to leave the country. “Free but under country arrest," she said in the first tweet in 15 hours since her arrest.

The spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry confirmed to RT that Umar was released by the Turkish authorities: "She is released, but she has to stay in Turkey and report herself on a regular basis to the authorities. So, she is no longer being held in custody, but she is not free to go where she wants to be." The spokesman has given no details, but said that Umar was reached by the Dutch PM and the foreign minister earlier today.

"Under the circumstances, she's doing fine. She's being treated in a respectful way [despite] being arrested during the night and taken to a police station." Umar is currently being assisted by the Dutch Honorary Consulate in Izmir as well as a lawyer found by the foreign ministry, the spokesman added.

After her release, Umar shared some details about her detention on Twitter. She said the police had held her in custody from approximately 11 pm on Saturday to 4 pm on Sunday. The police “were harsh at first,” and later became “annoyed at my lack of fear and hierarchy,” Umar wrote. Officers at the station made clear that they were just following orders, but refused to give their names, she added

Umar’s lawyers are currently working on getting the arrest lifted, according to her tweet.

In her Twitter feed Umar recently engaged in spirited exchanges with her critics. One of the tweets she reposted said the author had reported her to the police.

It comes amid public outcry in the Netherlands over a letter sent by a Turkish consulate to its citizens asking to report insults to the Turkish leader they encounter.

The Turkish authorities have launched some 2,000 lawsuits against people accused of insulting Erdogan.

Born to a Turkish family in The Hague, Umar is known as an outspoken critic of fundamentalist Islam, first in columns for the website of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh, who she called a close friend and a mentor, and later in a number of local newspapers. In 2004, van Gogh was murdered by a radical Islamist after making a controversial 10-minute film “Submission,” telling about violence against women in some Islamic societies, and a year later Umar took over his column in Metro.

As a columnist, Umar also contributes to women's magazine Libelle and the Dutch feminist magazine Opzij. She is a regular guest on Dutch TV panels on Muslim-related issues.