Germany declines Turkish request to freeze Gülen assets: Spiegel
BERLIN - ReutersGermany has rejected a formal request from Turkey to freeze the assets of members of the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, widely believed to have been behind the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt, the Spiegel magazine reported on Sept. 2.
The move is likely to worsen already strained ties between the two NATO allies after Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sept. 1 that Germany should react decisively to Turkey’s detention of two more German citizens on political charges.
Without naming its sources, the magazine said the Turkish government had asked the Foreign Ministry in Berlin at the end of April to freeze the assets of people linked to the Gülen movement in Germany. It attached a list with 80 names, it added.
The German government officially rejected the request at the end of June, telling Ankara that there were no legal grounds for Germany’s financial watchdog BaFin to crack down on the Gülen movement and its supporters, Spiegel reported.
The Foreign Ministry in Berlin declined to comment.
The report also said the number of Turkish extradition requests sent to Germany had jumped to 53 since the beginning of the year, already exceeding the total in the whole of 2016.
Meanwhile, Turkish authorities reportedly detained two German nationals on Aug. 31 over suspected links to last year’s failed coup attempt.
The Doğan News Agency reported that the two German citizens of Turkish origin were detained at the Antalya airport, a popular Mediterranean tourist destination, over alleged links to what the authorities call the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
It said the two suspects, identified only by the initials K.A. and S.A., were transferred to the provincial police headquarters.
Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Twelve German citizens are now in Turkish detention on political charges, four of them holding dual citizenship. Among these is German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who had his 200th day in detention on Sept. 1.
The detentions have further strained ties between Germany and Turkey after relations hit a low when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Merkel’s Christian Democrats were “enemies of Turkey” and called on Turks in Germany to vote against the country’s major parties in this month’s elections.
Social Democrat Martin Schulz, Merkel’s main challenger in the Sept. 24 elections, and other German politicians have urged Berlin to issue a formal travel warning to raise the pressure on Turkey.