Germany, Sweden slam Turkish arrests
Germany and Sweden have condemned Turkey about the jailing of two human rights activists, demanding that the charges be made clear.
German Peter Steudtner and Ali Gharavi of Sweden were arrested July 5 during a raid on a hotel near Istanbul where they were providing training at a digital security workshop. Amnesty International’s country director Idil Eser and five other activists were jailed last week for allegedly supporting an unnamed “terror” group.
German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told the media in Berlin that he had complained to Turkey, saying no charges had been revealed.
Schaefer said IT specialist Steudtner did not speak Turkish and was on his first visit to Turkey before. “What is the terror organisation that Peter Steudtner allegedly belongs to?” the spokesman asked.
He also criticised the tightly controlled Turkish media for publishing extracts from Steudtner’s alleged interview.
Berlin last week told citizens to exercise caution when traveling to Turkey and threatened to withhold backing for investment to what is increasingly becoming a pariah state.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week that his security services would continue “to breathe down the neck of agents who run around freely”.
Berlin is becoming increasingly angry with the police state.
“We find it hard to tolerate the Steudtner case again being prejudged on the Turkish government’s side in a way that is completely contradictory,” Schaefer said. “Formally, he is accused of membership in a terrorist organisation. Now we hear from the Turkish president that he was at the same time a spy for Germany and wanted to divide the country.”
The European Union has also delivered its most public criticism yet of Turkey’s security crackdown saying no entry bid will be considered until the human-rights situation improves.
Turkey’s foreign and EU affairs ministers have been in Brussels to meet the European commissioner who oversees membership, who said he needed to see “a reversal of the trend” toward dictatorship.
“Human rights, the rule of law, democracy, fundamental freedoms including media freedom are all basic imperative requirements for any progress towards the European Union,” Johannes Hahn told the media alongside Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Mogherini said there had been a constructive and open meeting but the tensions over Turkey’s aspirations to join the EU were evident. Cavusoglu defended the trial of prominent journalists and the Amnesty representative by telling the bloc not to be misled by “pseudo-journalists who help terrorist activities”.
Ankara’s government is being increasingly dictatorial. Picture credit: Wikimedia