VUB law student held in Turkey due to Facebook posts


A Belgian student with Turkish roots is being held in Turkey because of social media posts in support of Kurdish people

Freedom of speech ‘core value’ of VUB

A law student at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) spent 40 days in custody in Turkey because of Facebook posts from four years ago. She had criticised the treatment of Kurdish people in the country.

Guslum Cetinkaya, 27, is Turkish-Belgian and was visiting the country with her parents last month. She was stopped at the border when trying to cross into Bulgaria. She was apparently on a list of people Turkey wanted to detain because she defended the interests of Kurds in Turkey on Facebook in 2015.

She was released from custody after 40 days but is still not allowed to leave the country, according to Het Nieuwsblad. She has missed her retakes in Brussels, and the university was only just told about her detention in Turkey today.

“Her retakes can be postponed due to a situation of force majeure, but if the situation drags on for months, that’s another matter,” vice-rector Jan Danckaert told the paper. “Right now, we don’t have much insight into what she’s being investigated for, but if it’s indeed only about freedom of expression, than VUB would take that very seriously. Freedom of speech is one of our core values.”

Danckaert hopes that the federal government is following Cetinkaya’s case. “As a university, we have little power to put pressure” on Turkey, he said.

Photo: Nicolas Lambert/BELGA