Journalist Nagieb Khaja claimed in a series of tweets on Thursday that he was severely assaulted by a group of Turkish soldiers, even though he showed them his press card while crossing the border into Syria.
“When I was crossing the border they [Turkish security forces] saw me. I identified myself as a journalist, but they threw me to the ground and kicked me in the head and face several times,” Khaja tweeted.
In a following tweet the journalist stated that he was allowed to enter Syria. “I am in Syria now and ok. Thank you everybody! I have a headache and a swollen nose, but feel ok,” Khaja posted along with a photo of his swollen face.
Khaja is a freelance journalist and author who covers wars in different places — at the moment Afghanistan and Syria.
Today’s Zaman managed to talk to the journalist and asked about the details of the incident.
“I was somewhere close to Reyhanlı border gate. To be honest, I was crossing illegally because foreigners are not allowed to cross into Syria. When they saw me, I showed them my press card and told them I was ready to hand my self over voluntarily. But they started beating me and when I showed them my press card again they beat me even harder, throwing me to the ground and kicking me in the head and face,” Khaja said.
The journalist also stated that he was surprised that he was allowed enter Syria after he was assaulted. “It was weird because either they should have extradited me or just simply let me cross the border. Why first beat me up and then send me into Syria?” Khaja asked.
“I understand a little bit of Turkish because I grew up in a neighborhood in Denmark with a lot of Turks, and so I understood the soldiers a little bit. They insulted and swore at me. I know Turkey has laws and rules, but sometimes a cause is too important for the press to adhere to the rules. It’s important to cover the tragedy in Syria and that’s where good journalists should always focus their attention. It is not like I stole anything or was hurting anyone,” the journalist added.