Ber­lin summons Turk­ish en­voy over de­ten­tion of rights ac­tivist

Ger­many de­mands ‘im­me­di­ate re­lease’ of Peter Steudt­ner as well as con­sular ac­cess

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Ber­lin, Ger­many - Ber­lin on Wed­nes­day sum­moned Turkey’s Am­bas­sador over the de­ten­tion of a Ger­man hu­man rights ac­tivist and is­sued a fresh warn­ing about the NATO part­ner’s re­spect for the rule of law.

“The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment needs to im­me­di­ately and di­rectly hear the Ger­man gov­ern­ment’s out­rage and in­com­pre­hen­sion as well as its crys­tal-clear ex­pec­ta­tions in the case of Peter Steudt­ner, and this time with­out diplo­matic niceties,” For­eign Min­istry spokesman Martin Schae­fer said.

He said the en­voy was told ‘in no un­cer­tain terms’ that the de­ten­tion of Steudt­ner and five other ac­tivists in­clud­ing Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s Turkey direc­tor was ‘in­com­pre­hen­si­ble and also un­ac­cept­able’.

Ber­lin de­manded Steudt­ner’s ‘im­me­di­ate re­lease’ as well as con­sular ac­cess. The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive said he would de­liver this mes­sage im­me­di­ately to Ankara.

A Turk­ish court on Tues­day or­dered six hu­man rights ac­tivists in­clud­ing Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s Turkey direc­tor to re­main in cus­tody for al­legedly aid­ing a ‘terror’ group, a charge Schae­fer branded ‘ab­surd’.

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel has crit­i­cised the de­ten­tion of the ac- tivists as ‘un­jus­ti­fied’ and pledged to ‘ad­vo­cate for [Steudt­ner] on all lev­els’.

Schae­fer said For­eign Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel would in­ter­rupt his sum­mer hol­i­days and re­turn to Ber­lin over the ‘dra­matic es­ca­la­tion in Turk­ish ac­tions’ to de­ter­mine which ‘fur­ther mea­sures’ could be taken.

Re­la­tions be­tween Turkey and Ger­many, home to 3mn eth­nic Turks, have been badly strained, since the failed coup at­tempt a year ago against Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan.

Ber­lin has voiced deep con­cerns over mass ar­rests and sack­ings of al­leged coup plot­ters, and a host of other civil rights con­tro­ver­sies.

One dis­pute cen­tres on Deniz Yu­cel, a Ger­man-Turk­ish jour­nal­ist with the Ber­lin-based news­pa­per Die Welt, who was im­pris­oned by Turkey on terror charges ear­lier this year.

Schae­fer also men­tioned the on­go­ing de­ten­tion of Ger­man re­porter Me­sale Tolu, who has been in Turk­ish cus­tody since April.

The NATO al­lies have also clashed over thwarted vis­its by Ger­man law­mak­ers to Ger­man troops sta­tioned at Turk­ish bases.

Last week Turkey asked leg­is­la­tors to post­pone a sched­uled visit to a NATO base in Konya, the Ger­man For­eign Min­istry said, ex­press­ing ‘re­gret’ about the de­ci­sion.

The dis­pute came af­ter Ger­many last month pulled out 260 troops from Turkey’s In­cir­lik base, from where a multi­na­tional coali­tion is fight­ing the Is­lamic State ex­trem­ist group, and re­de­ployed them and their Tor­nado sur­veil­lance jets to Jor­dan.

(AFP)

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel ar­rives for a meet­ing fo­cus­ing on women in cul­ture and me­dia, in Ber­lin on Mon­day

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