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British Journalist Mysteriously Found Dead In Istanbul Airport Restroom

Oct 20, 2015
Originally published on October 20, 2015 5:52 pm
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Transcript

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Friends and colleagues of a British journalist are calling for an investigation into her mysterious death in Turkey. Jacqueline Sutton's body was found Saturday night in Istanbul's main airport. Local reports said the 50-year-old took her own life. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that those who knew her say this is unlikely.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Would a successful journalist, U.N. field worker and strong advocate for women in media in troubled countries commit suicide after missing a connecting flight? That's the question haunting friends and colleagues of Jackie Sutton. Turkey's state-run news agency quoted unnamed security sources as saying Sutton was found hanged at the Istanbul airport in an apparent suicide - hanged with her own shoelaces said another report. But co-workers say that this doesn't square with the character they knew. A veteran of journalism and aid work in Africa and the Middle East, Sutton was hardly the type to collapse over a missed flight, they said. Anthony Borden, executive director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which was sending Sutton to Erbil as their acting Iraq country director, said everyone at the Institute was in total shock at the news and was seeking answers.

In an interview last year with Australian radio, Sutton talked about her time in Iraq and how the terrible violence committed by the Islamic State is threatening the country again.

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JACQUELINE SUTTON: It's revolting. It disgusts Muslims, and in fact, colleagues and friends in Baghdad and Basra are absolutely terrified, not just about what IS is doing and what will happen if they come into their communities, but also because it's helping to ferment sectarianism, and that really is a big problem.

KENYON: Sutton became acting Iraq country director for IWPR in June. A month earlier, her predecessor, Ammar al-Shahbander, was killed in a car bomb attack in Baghdad that Iraqi authorities blamed on ISIS. IWPR and other journalists who knew Sutton are calling for a thorough forensic investigation of her death. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.