The United States Department of State has issued a new travel advisory, telling its citizens to “reconsider travel to Turkey due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions.”
The advisory noted an increased risk in provinces near the Syria and Iraq borders, warning citizens not to travel in these areas due to the risk of terrorism.
The warning continued:
Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Turkey. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas. Terrorists have also previously targeted Western tourists and expatriates for kidnapping and assassination.
Several U.S. citizens, including NASA scientist Serkan Gölge, have been imprisoned in Turkey for allegedly aiding a terrorist organisation. Gölge was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison in February after being found guilty of membership of the Gülen organisation, a religious group that Turkey accuses of plotting the July 2016 coup attempt and considers a terrorist organisation.
A number of U.S. consular workers in have also been imprisoned in Turkey, including Hamza Uluçay, who had been working as a translator at the U.S. Consulate in Adana for 36 years. He was first detained on Feb. 23, 2017. He was then referred to a local court in Mardin for arrest but released on probation on March 7, 2017. He was detained for the second time following the prosecutor’s objection to his release.
The U.S. travel advisory said,
Security forces have detained tens of thousands of individuals, including U.S. citizens, for alleged terrorist organizations based on scant or secret evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated. U.S. citizens have also been subject to travel bans that prevent them from departing Turkey. Participation in demonstrations not explicitly approved by the Government of Turkey, as well as criticism of the government, including on social media, can result in arrest.
The State Department travel advisory also classified areas Near Syrian and Iraq Borders as “Level 4: Do Not Travel.”
Do not travel near the Turkey/Syria and Turkey/Iraq borders due to the continued threat of civil war and attacks by terrorist groups.Terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, ambushes, car bomb detonations, and improvised explosive devices, as well as kidnappings for ransom, shootings, roadblocks, and violent demonstrations have occurred in these areas.
The United States last warned its citizens against travelling to Turkey on Jun. 29, 2018, citing a nationwide crackdown that has led to the arrest of thousands of people, including U.S. passport holders.