Italian reporter held in Turkey freed

Indo Asian News Service

Bologna (Italy), April 24 (IANS/AKI) An Italian journalist detained for two weeks in Turkey while researching refugees near the Syrian border flew back to Italy on Monday after his release.

Arriving here after his deportation from Turkey, Gabriele Del Grande told reporters he was well treated in detention.

"No harm of any kind was done to me, they did not touch a hair on my head," said 34-year-old Del Grande.

He said his thoughts were with "all the journalists who are still in prison in Turkey and elsewhere in the world, in much worse conditions than I experienced.

"I still don't know why I was arrested. I was not charged with any offence," said Del Grande, who is writing a book on the Syrian conflict.

He said he was a victim of "institutional violence" and claimed his detention had been "illegal".

Del Grande said he was arrested by plainclothes policemen after they grilled him about his research and only learnt overnight that he was being deported.

Del Grande was expelled from a repatriation centre in the Aegean province of Mugla early on Monday after an investigation into him was completed, Turkish daily Hurriyet said, citing unnamed sources.

The blogger, writer and human rights activist began a hunger strike last week after claiming he had no access to a lawyer and had been "interrogated" on the content of his research.

Del Grande, who is from the Tuscan city of Lucca, was met at Bologna airport by his parents and by Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, who negotiated Del Grande's release with Turkish authorities.

Alfano told journalists he was happy Del Grande had been freed and to see he had arrived home in good health.