Jacqueline Sutton
Jacqueline Sutton found dead at the Istanbul airport after missing her connecting flight. Facebook

The death of former BBC journalist Jacqueline Sutton, 50, who was found dead at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport's toilet after she allegedly missed a connecting flight to Iraq has raised a lot of questions. Friends of Sutton, who works for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, have dismissed claims that she had committed suicide.

According to local media, Sutton arrived in Istanbul from London Heathrow at about 10pm local time on Saturday (17 October) and was due to fly to Erbil at about midnight, However she missed her connecting flight and allegedly appeared distressed after being told by airline staff that she would have to buy a new ticket.

She was later found in the toilets by three Russian passengers, according to local Turkish media. But her friends have dismissed the story, saying that it was "impossible" that Sutton could have committed suicide, suspecting foul play.

Iraqi journalist Mazin Elias who has worked with Sutton, said that it was extremely unlikely Sutton could have missed her flight. "No, that's impossible ... we're not talking about a girl. She's a woman, an official woman, she's a big manager," he said.

Sutton is believed to have been the acting Iraq director for the IWPR. She has held various positions over the years with humanitarian organisations and the United Nations. According to the website Her Canberra, Sutton is a research scholar at the Centre of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University. She also writes for Vegan ACT and Her Canberra. She spoke five languages including basic Arabic, reports say.

Fellow journalist and development worker Rebecca Cooke has called for an international investigation. "Shocking and sad news about the death of Jacky Sutton in Istanbul. An international not just local investigation is needed," she said.

Jane Pearce, United Nations World Food Programme's representative and Country Director for Iraq also tweeted saying that she did not believe the news reports.

Lebanon-based Jessica Dheere said she was devastated by the news which comes barely six months after the death of IWPR's director Ammar Al Shahbander who was killed in a car bomb attack in Baghdad in May. A memorial service was held for him in London last week.

The Foreign Office said that they were "providing consular assistance to the family at this time." No other information was immediately available.