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Germany summons Turkish ambassador after criticism of judiciary

May 24, 2023 at 11:39 am

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) poses for a photo with Germany’s Ambassador to Ankara, Juergen Schulz (L) after receiving the letter of credence from him at the Presidential Complex, in Ankara, Turkey on October 21, 2020 [Turkish Presidency/ Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

The German Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that the government had summoned the Turkish ambassador to Berlin after criticism of the judiciary following the recent searches conducted at the homes of Turkish journalists.

“The German government firmly rejects the accusations of the Turkish government regarding freedom of speech and the press as well as the judiciary in Germany,” tweeted the ministry in Berlin.

The summons came five days before the second round of the presidential election in Turkiye. A similar move was made by the Turkish authorities on 17 May, when they summoned the German ambassador after searches conducted in Frankfurt at the homes of correspondents of the pro-government Turkish newspaper Sabah.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned what it called “the unfounded arrest of representatives of the Frankfurt office of the Sabah newspaper by the German police,” and described it as “harassment and intimidation” of the Turkish press.

READ: Turkiye, Germany ministers argue over policies in tense news conference

The German Public Prosecutor’s Office in Darmstadt denied that the two journalists were arrested but confirmed that their homes were searched and they were being charged with “dangerous dissemination of personal data.”

Sabah said that the journalists were arrested following a complaint filed against them by supporters of the preacher Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US. Gulen is accused by Turkiye of being behind the attempted coup in 2016.

“The arrest of the two Turkish journalists because of their articles on the FETO terrorist organisation [sic] is a clear violation of press freedom,” said Fahrettin Altun, director of communications in the Turkish presidency.