Skip to navigationSkip to content

A UK activist combating extremism in Iraq was found dead in a Turkish airport bathroom

By Hanna Kozlowska
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Jacky Sutton, Iraq director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) was found dead this weekend at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, her organization confirmed.

Turkish media reported that she hanged herself in a bathroom after she missed a connecting flight to Eribil, Iraq on Saturday, Oct. 17, and could not afford a replacement ticket. Sutton’s friends and colleagues are full of doubts about those accounts.

Susan Hutchinson, Sutton’s colleague from the Australian National University, where she was working on a PhD,  told ABC she was “skeptical of the idea” that Sutton committed suicide, and called for a “full investigation.” She emphasized that IWPR had recently “taken up some work on countering the anti-women messaging” of ISIL.

“The circumstances of her death are unclear, and we are trying to establish the facts,” IWPR said in a statement. The organziation said that Sutton was “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.”

Sutton’s predecessor, Ammar Al Shahbander, was killed in a car bomb attack in May. Sutton was in London last week attending a memorial service in his honor.

Prior to working for the IWPR, an organization that promotes freedom of speech in war-torn countries and closed societies, Sutton, 50, held positions at the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations and was a journalist for the BBC. Her PhD research focused on international support for female journalists in Iraq and Afghanistan.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.