Merkel says she is ‘concerned’ after Turkey deports German reporter
ISTANBULGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed her government’s concern after Turkey deported a German reporter on April 19 on the grounds that he was previously banned from entering the country.
The chancellor said German officials “immediately looked into the matter,” in response to a question about the incident during a news conference in Berlin late on April 19.
“The Foreign Ministry in particular is in constant contact with all necessary authorities and is of course trying to restore the journalist’s ability to work. As such, we are pursuing this and regard it with some concern,” she said.
Turkish police detained Volker Schwenck, a reporter for German State Television (ARD), following his arrival from Cairo to Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport to interview refugees at Turkey’s border with Syria.
Schwenck announced his detention on Twitter and posted a picture of an entry ban letter given to him by authorities with the headline in Turkish and English: “Inadmissible Passenger Notification Report.”
“Last destination Istanbul. My entry to Turkey has been refused. I’m told there was a record regarding my name. I’m a journalist. Is that a problem?” he tweeted.
ARD said Schwenck was held for nearly 12 hours before flying back to Cairo, where he is based. He told the station’s evening news program that Turkish officials gave no explanation for refusing him entry.
In Ankara, a Turkish official confirmed a German journalist had been detained and would be deported, having attempted to contravene a blacklist by entering the country. The official gave no further details.
The deportation is the latest incident involving journalists to sour German-Turkish relations, as Merkel granted a Turkish request to allow the possible prosecution of a German TV comic for “insulting” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, amid harsh criticism accusing the chancellor of sacrificing press freedoms to ensure Turkish commitment to a migrant deal with the European Union.
In a separate incident, Sputnik Turkey claimed April 20 that its general manager for Turkey, Tural Kerimov, was denied entry to the country.
In a statement on its website, Sputnik Turkey said Kerimov was held for nearly an hour at Istanbul Atatürk Airport and was later informed that he was banned from entering the country.
“Someone took my passport at border control and went to an inspection room in the international arrivals hall. No one said anything to me as I waited for an hour,” Kerimov said, noting that a no-entry notice was subsequently presented to him. Kerimov also said Turkish authorities confiscated his press card and residence permit.
The manager said Turkish officials subsequently demanded that he return to Russia with the next scheduled flight.
Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) blocked access to Sputnik Turkey, the Turkish arm of the Russian state news agency, on April 15, without issuing prior notification, citing “legal consideration” of a law regarding crimes committed through online broadcasts.
Sputnik Turkey Editor-in-Chief Mahir Boztepe announced the prohibition on his Twitter account, adding that Turkish users were denied entry not only to the agency’s Turkish website but also to all its websites in 31 languages.
In a statement, Sputnik’s top editor, Margarita Simonyan, described the action as “a further act of harsh censorship” in Turkey and said the site had been blocked late on April 14, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin made comments criticizing “some political leaders” in Turkey.