Turkey in Talks with U.S. for reversal of ban on electronic devices: Minister

Ankara is in talks with Washington seeking the reversal or softening of the new US ban on electronic devices larger than cellphones in the cabin of US-bound flights from 10 airports in Muslim-majority countries, Turkey’s transport minister has said.

“This is a wrongful measure. They shouldn’t confuse Istanbul, through which 80 million people are taking flights every year, with other cities,” the minister, Ahmet Arslan, told journalists.

Turkish authorities have already taken every possible precaution at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, he added.

The transport minister believes the US ban will “decrease the level of comfort for the passengers and will lead to a drop in their numbers.”

According to Arslan, the Turkish authorities will try to settle the issue through negotiations with Washington.

“We are particularly emphasizing how this will not benefit the passengers and that reverse steps or a softening should be adopted,” he said, as cited by AFP, adding that Ankara expects the issue to be resolved in the coming days.

However, King’s College London and Geneva Centre for Security Policy research fellow Jean-Marc Rickli said that when faced with specific intelligence it was more usual for a global ban to be issued, rather than limiting action to certain countries. Dr Rickli cited incidents including the attempted 2001 shoe-bombing plot, that sparked global footwear checks for passengers, and the restrictions that followed the 2006 attempt to detonate liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks.

“If they have critical intelligence that something could happen fine, but the measures that they are taking shows a mismatch with the threat,” he added.

Turkey’s largest carrier, Turkish Airlines, has already informed passengers on its website that “any electronic or electrical devices larger than a

cellphone or smartphone (except medical devices)” are now banned on US-bound flights.

Earlier Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s administration said that it banned electronic items bigger than a cellphone, excluding medical devices, in their cabin of US-bound flights from 10 international airports in Muslim-majority countries for security reasons.

Devices such as tablets, laptops and cameras should all be in checked baggage.