Skip to main content

Journalists, activists question apparent suicide of British journalist in Turkey

Jacky Sutton’s death comes months after her former boss was killed in a Baghdad bomb blast
Jacky Sutton has worked with the BBC and the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (Facebook)

A former BBC journalist, Jacky Sutton, has been found dead in an Istanbul airport after reportedly taking her own life, although the claim is being widely questioned by journalists and activists. 

According to Turkish media reports Sutton, 50 - who was appointed the acting Iraq head of the London-based Institute of War and Peace Reporting in June - killed herself in the airport toilet after she missed a connecting flight to Erbil and was unable to pay for a new ticket.

Her death comes months after former IWPR Iraq head, Ammar al-Shahbander, was killed by a car bomb explosion in Baghdad. The London-based Institute of War and Peace Reporting works with local journalists in conflict and crisis-hit countries.

The IWPR said that the "circumstances of her death are unclear, and we are trying to establish the facts". 

However, colleagues and friends say that this is unlikely and that Sutton was not suicidal and have called for an investigation.

Susan Hutchinson, who worked with Sutton at the Australian National University where Sutton had previously finished a PhD focusing on women’s issues, said she did not believe the reports.

She told ABC News: “I am unconvinced that she would have committed suicide … I am sceptical of the idea. I absolutely think that there needs to be a full investigation.”

“I hope the Foreign Office has full access in order to be able to conduct a proper investigation about the circumstances in which Jacky died and I hope that that is done internationally and in a transparent and cooperative way.”

Namo Abdulla, a journalist with Rudaw who had worked with Sutton, also took to social media to express shock and disbelief. 

"Jacky was one of the top development professionals working on Iraq, and she devoted nearly ten years of her life to helping the country,” Anthony Borden, executive Director of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting said in a statement. “She was extremely bright, highly competent, and well able to handle herself in difficult environments, and she was universally loved. We are in total shock.”

Sutton is reported to have spoken five languages. She has worked with the BBC World Service, UNDP as well as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Baghdad among others. Her recent work is said to have focused on countering anti-female narrative of the Islamic State group. 

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.