Turkey wants comic pros­e­cuted

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Ger­many is con­sid­er­ing a re­quest from Turkey to pros­e­cute a TV co­me­dian who wrote a crude poem about the Turk­ish pres­i­dent, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s spokesman said.

Turkey sent a diplo­matic note mak­ing “a for­mal re­quest for crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion” of Jan Boehmer­mann (pic­tured), spokesman St­ef­fen Seibert said.

Boehmer­mann read the poem on ZDF tele­vi­sion two weeks ago to il­lus­trate what he said wouldn’t be al­lowed in Ger­many, con­trast­ing it with another chan­nel’s satir­i­cal song that also poked fun at Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan. Ger­many’s am­bas­sador was sum­moned to the for­eign min­istry in Ankara last month to hear a protest over that song.

While the Ger­man gov­ern­ment de­fended the song as le­git­i­mate free speech, it has strongly dis­tanced it­self from the poem. Seibert has said that Merkel and Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Ah­met Davu­to­glu agreed the poem was “de­lib­er­ately of­fen­sive”.

Ger­many’s crim­i­nal code pro­vides for up to three years in prison or a fine for in­sult­ing a for­eign head of state. How­ever, it stip­u­lates that such of­fences are only pros­e­cuted if the coun­try in ques­tion seeks pros­e­cu­tion and the Ger­man gov­ern­ment al­lows it. Seibert told re­porters yes­ter­day that of­fi­cials would take sev­eral days to de­cide whether to al­low prose­cu­tors to pro­ceed in the case, but stressed that Merkel holds free speech in high re­gard. It is “ne­go­tiable nei­ther at home nor abroad”, he said. Seibert said he was stress­ing Merkel’s ded­i­ca­tion to free speech “to counter the im­pres­sion that the free­dom of opin­ion and art... no longer has the nec­es­sary high value for the chan­cel­lor just be­cause she, along with other Euro­peans, wants to re­solve the refugee ques­tion in part­ner­ship with Turkey”.

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