Mystery Surrounds Journalist's Airport Death

Friends say story of Jacqueline Sutton's alleged suicide in Turkey 'doesn't stick'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2015 1:09 PM CDT
Mystery Surrounds Journalist's Airport Death
File photo of passengers at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey.   (AP Photo/Ibrahim Usta)

British journalist Jacqueline Sutton was appointed director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in Iraq under tragic circumstances. She got the post when her predecessor at the nonprofit—which aims to train local journalists in conflict zones—was killed by a car bomb in May. Now, just a week after Sutton attended a memorial for the man, she, too, has turned up dead, reports Time. Turkish authorities say the former BBC correspondent, 50, was found hanging by a pair of shoelaces in a bathroom stall at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on Sunday after she'd missed a flight to Irbil, Iraq. State-controlled Turkish media report Sutton committed suicide because she was upset that she couldn't afford another ticket. But "the story doesn't stick," a former colleague tells Deutsche Welle. "She wasn't going through a depression. She wasn't broke. She has dealt with missed flights before. I strongly doubt that this narrative was what really took place."

Airport footage reportedly from Saturday shows Sutton walking through the airport carrying two bags, per the Mirror. At one point, she speaks briefly with airport personnel and is also seen carrying what appears to be a form. Later, footage shows Sutton with the same luggage but an additional shopping bag, which suggests she did have money on hand. IWPR's executive director says Sutton, who also held senior roles at the UN, "was extremely bright, highly competent, and well able to handle herself in difficult environments," according to an IWPR post. It also notes she was "returning to Iraq full of plans for innovative new work, including projects to counter violent extremism that threatens a country to which she was so committed." The organization has asked for a full investigation into her death. The International Women's Development Agency has echoed that request on Twitter. (More Turkey stories.)

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