Germany warns travellers visiting Turkey

Germany warns travellers visiting Turkey

The German authorities have revised travel advice to Turkey, warning that freedom of expression laws in Germany do not apply in the increasingly dictatorial republic.

Meanwhile, two German journalists have left Turkey after their press credentials were not renewed, sparking condemnation by the government in Germany.

Thomas Seibert, a reporter from the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel, and Jörg Brase of broadcaster ZDF flew to Germany after their accreditation to work in Turkey was not renewed.
They were told by Ankara about a week ago that their applications for media cards had not been approved.

“[I] have not been given any reason why my application to extend my press credentials was denied,” Brase said. “Turkey also has a press law that I have not broken — at least as far as I am aware.”

Seibert said the decision may not have even been because of anything they reported.
The German travel advice warns of similar arbitrary action.

“It cannot be ruled out that the Turkish authorities will take further action against representatives of German media and civil society organisations,” said the updated advice.

“Statements, which are covered by the German freedom of expression laws, can lead in Turkey to occupational restrictions and criminal proceedings.

It said several Germans had been “arbitrarily detained” over the past two years after being suspected of supporting the movement of self-exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, on which Turkey has blamed the botched July 2016 coup and considers a terrorist organisation.

Visitors who have attended meetings organised by banned groups risk arrest, Berlin warned. Sharing or liking a post on social media critical of the Turkish regime could result in a lengthy prison sentence on charges of “presidential infidelity” or “propaganda for a terrorist organisation”.

German journalists have been denied entry or accreditation without explanation, which Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called “unacceptable”.

He told Der Tagesspiegel am Sonntag: “When journalists are prevented from doing their work, that is incompatible with our understanding of press freedom.”

“My Turkish colleagues know that,” Maas tweeted and called for a “working dialogue”.

Tear-gassed women

Riot police in Istanbul have fired tear gas and plastic bullets to disperse thousands of demonstrators marking International Women’s Day last week.

Thousands of protesters, mostly women, gathered near Istiklal Street in central Istanbul’s Taksim neighbourhood for a march that the authorities said was unauthorised.

The march has been organised annually on Istiklal Street since 2003.

The police set up barricades on the street and fired tear gas to push back attendees as they reportedly pursued women into the side streets.

Turkey is increasingly restricting the right to protest, with the Istanbul gay pride events being banned.

 

The Turkish media has been increasingly restricted since the botched 2016 coup. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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