Brussels law student detained in Turkey over old Facebook posts

Brussels law student detained in Turkey over old Facebook posts
A Belgo-Turkish law student from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is being held in Turkey, where she was arrested while on a family trip this summer. Credit: VUB - Vrije Universiteit Brussel/Facebook

A 27-year-old Belgo-Turkish law student is being held in Turkey where she was reportedly arrested over a month ago over a series of years-old Facebook posts about the Kurds.

Dual national Guslum Cetinkaya was arrested while travelling with her Turkish-Kurdish parents in Turkey in July, and her relatives worry that she may be held there longer.

She was checked at the border with Bulgaria and immediately detained, her uncle, filmmaker Bülent Özturk, told Het Nieuwsblad.

Originally from Antwerp, Cetinkaya, who is studying law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), was recently released from a Turkish prison where she was kept, thousands of kilometres away from her family's village, Özturk told the outlet. But she is still not allowed to leave the country.

"She was in prison for forty days," her uncle said, adding that Cetinkaya had told him that the cell she was kept in was "tiny" and unsanitary.

"She was arrested on the basis of a number of Facebook posts from four to five years ago. My cousin at the time had shared a number of articles from alternative media channels," Özturk said, adding that the posts were about the injustices suffered by the Kurdish minority of the country at the time of a refugee deal the EU made with Turkey.


Cetinkaya's relatives said they hope that the Belgian state will intercede, and that they feel overpowered by the situation.

"My sister begged me to do something, but I am powerless," the student's uncle said. "We hope the Belgian government acts on behalf of my niece. In Turkey, she is just one of the many thousands who are persecuted," he added.

Foreign affairs authorities in Belgium are reportedly looking into the situation, but the government cannot interfere if a dual national is held in their second country, according to media reports.

Alerted to the news at the start of the week, a representative of the VUB university said that it hoped that authorities would follow up on the matter.

"As a university, we have few resources to exert pressure," the representative said, according to Bruzz.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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