Germany, Sweden protest to Turkey over jailing of activists
BERLIN - The Associated Press
REUTERS photoGermany’s foreign minister says his country and Sweden have made a joint protest to Turkey about the jailing of two human rights activists, demanding that the men be told what exactly they are accused of.
Peter Steudtner of Germany and Ali Gharavi of Sweden were detained on July 5 in a hotel in Istanbul’s Büyükada island where they were teaching a digital security workshop. They were among six activists, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director İdil Eser, who were then arrested on July 18 for allegedly aiding an unspecified armed terror group.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said that Germany and Sweden on July 26 jointly complained to the Turkish government, saying the two governments don’t understand why the men were jailed and “expect that they at least now be told in substantiated terms what they are accused of.”
Schaefer also sharply criticized Turkish media for publishing extracts from the questioning of Steudtner.
Meanwhile, the partners of Steudtner and Gharavi appealed for their release on July 26, rejecting the terrorism accusations against the men.
“We want them out,” Laressa Dickey, the wife of Gharavi, told The Associated Press in Berlin. She was accompanied by Steudtner’s partner, Magdalena Freudenschuss, who said she didn’t understand why the men were charged with terrorism.
“They are very caring people who help others. Not knowing when Ali and Peter will be released scares us and makes us angry,” Freudenschuss said.
They said they were not allowed to talk to the men, who are sharing a room in Maltepe prison in Istanbul, however, they can send notes through their lawyers, adding that considering the circumstances, the jailed activists are doing OK.
Steudtner, his partner and their two children are based in Berlin, while Gharavi and Dickey, who is American, divide their time between Berlin and Kalmar, Sweden.
Gharavi, 50, and Steudtner, 45, both have been accused of aiding an armed terrorist group, without further details. Steudtner has also been called a spy by the Turkish side.
Both women rejected the accusations sharply. They said their partners had given the workshop on digital security several times together in different places.
Steudtner’s imprisonment has sent already strained German-Turkish ties to a new low. The German government last week told citizens to exercise caution when traveling to Turkey and threatened to withhold backing for investments there.