Prosecutors wrapped up an investigation into the Oct. 17 death of Jacqueline Anne Sutton, a former journalist and nongovernmental organization (NGO) representative, at Istanbul Atatürk Airport. The investigation found that the 50-year-old woman committed suicide and ruled out foul play in her hanging death.
Sutton was found hanged in a washroom stall at the airport she arrived at from London for a connecting flight to Iraq's Irbil where she worked as representative of a media NGO, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). A prosecutor's office had launched an inquiry into the death that was regarded as suspicious by Sutton's friends and colleagues. The inquiry's results, released yesterday, show no suspicious activity at the airport, and say Sutton stayed at the airport for two hours and did not contact anyone.
A report of inquiry said the former BBC journalist spent time at the airport mostly by sitting alone and having two beers at a cafe. However, it still remains a mystery why Sutton, who waited 40 minutes for her flight, did not board while all other passengers in the departure lounge headed to the plane. According to the prosecutors' report, Sutton deliberately did not head to the plane and waited for about eight minutes after the plane took off before going to airport officials to tell them she missed the flight. An official interviewed by the prosecutor said Sutton was "teary-eyed" when they told her she had to buy a new plane ticket after she missed the flight.
The inquiry report said Sutton headed to the washroom after talking to the official and was found dead seven minutes later after two Russian passengers notified airport authorities about a woman who had apparently collapsed in one of the stalls. Sutton was found hanged on the coat rack of the door by her shoelaces. She was only 7 centimeters above the ground. The inquiry did not find any sign of a possible assault or harassment on her body. An autopsy of Sutton could not find any trace of drugs in her body. It was previously claimed by the media that Sutton was depressed and taking medication.
Sutton was the acting country director for the IWPR and the successor of Ammar al-Shahbander, the IWPR Iraq chief who was killed in a car bombing in May. The IWPR said Sutton last visited al-Shahbander's family in London for a memorial service before she arrived in Istanbul.
Her suicide, at a time she was newly appointed to a senior role at the NGO and was pursuing a Ph.D. at the Australian National University in Canberra, came as a shock to her friends who expressed disbelief that she would kill herself. Sara Pantuliano, director of the London-based Humanitarian Policy Group think tank, said in a tweet that Sutton was "a force of nature," and called on British authorities to investigate her death. "We will fight for the truth to come out as you would have done," she wrote.
British dailies reported that Amanda Whitely, a friend of Sutton, posted a blog on her website, in which she quoted Sutton previously as telling her in an email in June that she feared she would be targeted by the Daesh terror group.
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