LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists urged Turkish authorities to release Syrian journalist Majed Shamaa and end deportation proceedings against him.
Shamaa, a reporter for the Dubai-based broadcaster Orient TV, was arrested by Turkish police at his home in downtown Istanbul and threatened with deportation, which will likely endanger his life.
“By arresting journalist Majed Shamaa and threatening him with deportation, Turkish authorities are not only showing a lack of sense of humor, but also an utter disregard for press freedom and human rights,” said Ignacio Miguel Delgado, the Middle East and North Africa representative for the CPJ.
“Turkish authorities must immediately release Shamaa, stop his deportation, and allow Syrian journalists in Turkey to do their jobs freely and without fear of reprisal.”
Shamaa is reportedly facing deportation to Syria for inciting hatred and insulting the Turkish people in a satirical video he produced as part of a news program.
The video in question is an episode of the program “Street Poll” in which Shamaa interviewed Syrians in Istanbul about the so-called banana wars.
Banana wars are a dispute over standards of living in the city sparked by a viral video of a Turkish man claiming that he could not afford bananas but saw Syrians buying many of them.
Following that clip, Syrians shared videos and pictures on social media platforms of themselves eating bananas, which prompted Turkish authorities to arrest several Syrians for alleged provocation and incitement to hatred.
The journalist and his lawyer explained to the public prosecutor that Shamaa is a journalist and deportation would endanger his life, and the prosecutor ordered for him to be released. However, deportation proceedings against him were already under way.
In a letter Shamaa wrote to Orient TV, the journalist said the staff at the Gaziantep deportation center had forced him to sign and fingerprint deportation papers, even though they knew that he did not want to be deported.