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US updates Turkey travel advisory, warns citizens against terrorism and arbitrary detentions

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US updates Turkey travel advisory, warns citizens against terrorism and arbitrary detentions

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US Department of State building.

The US Department of State on Thursday updated its travel advisory on Turkey, urging increased caution due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions.

“Updated Turkey Travel Advisory was published last night. Like many other European countries, Turkey is now Level 2,” the US Embassy in Ankara tweeted on Friday.

While the country was qualified as Level 2, the recommended caution level was heightened for particular areas.

Due to the risk of terrorism, areas near the Syrian and Iraqi borders were noted as Level 4, the highest level of warning, meaning travel to those areas should be avoided.

Citizens were also asked to reconsider travel to the eastern and southeastern provinces of Batman, Bingöl, Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Hakkari, Hatay, Kilis, Mardin, Şanlıurfa, Siirt, Şırnak, Tunceli and Van, which were qualified as Level 3.

“Security forces have detained tens of thousands of individuals, including US citizens, for alleged affiliations with terrorist organizations based on scant or secret evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated,” the advisory said.

“US citizens have also been subject to travel bans that prevent them from departing Turkey. Participations 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.”

Turkish-American scientist Serkan Gölge, who was imprisoned in Turkey for nearly three years due to alleged terrorism links, was released in May of this year but was unable to return to his job at NASA as he was restricted from travelling outside Turkey.

American pastor Andrew Brunson was also arrested in Turkey for allegedly spying and having links to terrorist groups. Upon increasing pressure from US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, he was released and allowed to return to US after nearly two years of imprisonment.

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