Colleagues of ex-BBC journalist head to Istanbul for answers to inexplicable death
By Tom Porter
A colleague of former BBC journalist Jacky Sutton, who was found hanged in a toilet cubicle in Istanbul airport, said claims she committed suicide “go against everything we understood about Jacky”.
The 50-year-old acting Iraq director for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting was found dead in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. The Foreign Office confirmed the death of a British national in Istanbul on 18 October and said it was “providing consular assistance to the family at this time”.
Friends and colleagues of Sutton have expressed suspicion over the circumstances of her death.Unattributed claims in Turkish media suggest her death is being treated as suicide after she missed a connecting flight.
“Everything I knew, or everything her friends knew, suggested a person of real life force and positive outlook with huge work ahead of her and great commitment, so the idea that she would take her life goes against everything we understood about Jacky,” IWPR director Anthony Borden told IBTimes UK.
He said colleagues would be travelling to Istanbul to speak UK consulate officials and attempt to arrange a meeting with Turkish investigators about the death.
Borden said Sutton had been engaged in training and mentoring programmes in Irbil, in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, for about four months, and was returning from a short visit to London, where she attended the memorial service for the institute’s previous Iraq director Ammar al-Shahbander, who was killed in a car bomb attack in Baghdad in May alongside 16 others.
“Following Amar’s passing we had the sombre task of continuing his legacy, and now that must begin again,” said Borden. He said Iraqi investigators believed Islamic State (Isis) was responsible for the car bomb attack in the Karrada area of Baghdad in which Shahbander was killed, but he had not been deliberately targeted, and was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
According to the MailOnline, Sutton had also spoken in June of her fears that she may be targeted by IS. Her LinkedIn profile says she spoke four languages, including basic Arabic, and was studying for PhD at the Centre for Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.
In an online article on her career, she describes being detained as a spy while reporting from Eritrea in the late 1980s, and narrowly avoiding being killed in bombing attacks in Baghdad while working for the UN in Baghdad.