Italian Journalist Home After 2 Weeks Detention in Turkey

Gabriele Del Grande, left, is flanked by his partner Alexandra D’Onofrio after landing at the Bologna airport, Italy, Monday, April 24, 2017. An Italian journalist has returned to Italy after being detained 2 weeks in Turkey for entering an area without permission. Gabriele Del Grande, a blogger and documentary maker who has reported on Syrian refugees, was detained after entering Hatay region in southern Turkey. He arrived Monday at Bologna airport and said he had been treated well but wanted to know why he was deprived of freedom for 14 days “for doing his job.” (Giorgio Benvenuti/ANSA via AP)

FRANCES D’EMILIO, AP

ROME (AP) — An Italian journalist returned home on Monday after being detained for two weeks in Turkey, apparently because he entered an area near the Syrian border without the necessary permission.

Gabriele Del Grande, a blogger and documentary-maker who has written about refugees, was detained in southern Turkey. He arrived Monday at Bologna airport on a flight from Turkey.

He said he had been treated well, adding “they didn’t touch a hair on my head.” But Del Grande said that he didn’t understand why he was detained by plainclothes security officials.

“I feel it’s illegal what’s happened to me — a journalist deprived of his freedom for 14 days for doing his job,” Del Grande told reporters at the airport.

In Turkey, a government official said that the journalist was detained on April 9 for illegally entering a military zone bordering Syria and near the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province, and because he was working without the permit journalists are required to obtain.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization, said that at some point Del Grande was transferred to a center for the expatriation of foreigners in the province of Mugla, in southwest Turkey.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, flanking Del Grande, credited quiet diplomacy for the release. The minister also cited solid Italian-Turkish relations.

“We had a great link with Turkey in the fight against terrorism,” Alfano said.

Without elaborating, the minister said that the Turks were acting “according to the procedures” in detaining the Italian.

Del Grande said that he went on a hunger strike for seven days, so the first thing he wanted to do was “go eat.”

Before leaving the airport, Del Grande said that he wanted to offer a “dear thought … to the journalists who are in jail in Turkey and all (over) the world.”

He apparently was referring to a crackdown on journalists, along with academics and politicians and others whose loyalty to the Turkish government came under suspicion after the failed coup in Turkey last year.

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Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser contributed to report from Ankara, Turkey.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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