Turkey deporting Syrian journalist for banana video despite acquittal: sources
A Syrian journalist who took part in banana-based satire is being deported from Turkey despite being acquitted of wrongdoing, his lawyer and his boss said on Wednesday.
The Turkish interior ministry said last week that it had detained seven Syrians, who had posted videos showing themselves eating bananas. The videos were posted in response to footage showing a Turkish man berating a Syrian woman for buying bananas and blaming refugees for his inability to buy fruit.
Journalist Majed Shamaa faced charges of insulting the Turkish state or people after making a satirical program addressing the banana issue for Syrian opposition outlet Orient News - but the prosecutor ordered he be acquitted, Shamaa's lawyer said.
However, Shamaa was transferred to a police station and the deportation process began, the lawyer said.
He was been transferred from Istanbul to the city of Gaziantep, close to the Syrian border, Alaa Farhat, the editor-in-chief of the Istanbul-based channel told The New Arab's sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Shamaa's life is in danger in Syria because of his work as a journalist, Farhat said.
Turkish human rights organisations have condemned the move to deport the Syrians.
Syrians face widespread hostility in Turkey, which politicians are capitalising on as the country gears up for elections. Turkey's main opposition party earlier this year vowed to send Syrians "back home" if it comes to power in a general election scheduled for 2023.
Human rights organisations have warned that deported Syrians face grave danger once they arrive in their country of origin.
About half of Syria’s population has been displaced due to Syria’s decade-long civil war. As many as 6.8 million Syrians live as refugees outside the country and the rest internally displaced.