Germany's Merkel criticizes Turkey over arrest of German human rights activist
KIENBAUM – Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on July 18 sharply criticized the arrest of German human rights activist Peter Steudtner in Turkey as “absolutely unjustified” and said the German government would do all it could to secure his release.
The Turkish court ruled for the arrest of six human rights activists on July 18, including the director of Amnesty International Turkey, İdil Eser and German Steudner for “aiding a terror group.”
Merkel made the unscheduled remarks at a ceremony for German top athletes, saying the case was of “the utmost concern.”
“We are firmly convinced that this arrest is absolutely unjustified. We, as the German government, condemn it. We declare our solidarity with him and all the others arrested,” Merkel said.
“And the German government will do all it can, on all levels, to secure his release,” she added.
The arrest marked another case “where innocent people had been caught up in the wheels of the justice system and wound up in detention,” said Merkel.
Meanwhile, the German government also criticized the decision for Steudtner’s arrest.
“The German government condemns the arrest of Peter Steudtner and other human rights defenders in Turkey. We demand that he is quickly released from prison,” said a spokeswoman for Germany’s foreign office.
Moreover, the Swedish Foreign Ministry expressed their concern over the arrest of Swedish citizen Ali Gharavi.
“Our Consulate General in Istanbul, our Embassy in Ankara and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm are working on this issue,” said the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Jessica Garpvall.
Amnesty International called on world leaders on July 17 to pressure Turkey into releasing six human rights activists accused of aiding “terror” groups, saying the country was turning “increasingly rogue.”
Eser was detained on July 5 along with seven other activists and two foreign trainers during a digital security and information management workshop on Istanbul’s Büyükada Island.
Separately, a German newspaper publisher said it filed an appeal to Turkey's highest court against the incarceration for the past five months of a German-Turkish reporter, the Associated Press has reported.
Deniz Yücel, who works for the daily Die Welt, was arrested Feb. 14 in Istanbul. He was accused of disseminating terrorist propaganda and inciting hatred, as well as espionage and ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - allegations Yücel denies. He hasn't been formally charged.
Die Welt's publisher, WeltN24 GmbH, said it filed a complaint on July 18 to the Constitutional Court in Ankara against Yücel's continued imprisonment and violation of its press freedom in the case.
WeltN24 director Stephanie Caspar said on July 19 that the company "will exhaust all legal means available to us to defend the freedom to report of our correspondent and the publisher."