Merkel welcomes release of German-Turkish author in Spain
AP photoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed the release of a German writer detained in Spain on a Turkish warrant and criticized Turkey for "abusing" Interpol.
Doğan Akhanlı, who writes about Turkey’s human rights record, was detained on Aug. 19 while on holiday in Granada on an Interpol red notice, similar to an international arrest warrant, from Ankara.
Merkel told RTL Television late on Aug. 20 that "I'm very happy that Spain released him ... We cannot abuse international organizations like Interpol for such things."
The German Chancellor also warned Turkey not to “misuse” Interpol to pursue its critics after a Spanish court ordered the conditional release of a Turkish-German writer wanted by Ankara.
“That’s not on,” said Merkel about the latest case of the German citizen being pursued by Turkey, adding that countries “must not misuse international organizations such as Interpol.”
Relations between Turkey and Germany, home to three million ethnic Turks, have recently been strained, particularly after last year’s failed coup attempt.
The Cologne-based Akhanlı, who has previously been jailed in Turkey before being granted political asylum and citizenship in Germany, was released by the Spanish court on condition he stays in Madrid while authorities await the formal extradition request from Turkey.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also greeted the writer’s release and said “it would be terrible if, even on the other side of Europe, Turkey succeeded in having people who raise their voices against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrested.”
Merkel said it was “unfortunately one of many cases” of Turkey pursuing German citizens, mentioning Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel of the Die Welt newspaper, who faces trial on terror charges.
Such cases had led Germany to “massively change” its Turkey policy, Merkel said, speaking at a TV forum with voters, and referring to stepped up travel warnings and moves likely to dampen new investment in Turkey.
Erdoğan on Aug. 18 called on Turkish-origin German citizens not to vote for Merkel’s Christian Democrats, Martin Schulz’s Social Democrat Party (SDP) or the Green Party because he said they showed an anti-Turkey stance.
Gabriel criticized the president’s remarks, saying they constituted an interference in the German general election, which is scheduled to take place on Sept. 24.
Merkel also said on Aug. 20 that the tactic was “absolutely unacceptable.”
Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz also condemned “the constant interference by Erdoğan in the internal affairs of other states.”
“And it’s not happening only in Germany,” he told Die Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
German Green MPs have long taken up the cause of Akhanlı, saying he is a victim of political persecution.
He was jailed in Turkey from 1985 to 1987 before moving to Cologne in the 1990s and becoming a German citizen in 2001.
Akhanlı has written about the 1915 killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
He was arrested again in 2010 when he arrived at an Istanbul airport for a visit, on charges he was allegedly involved in a 1989 armed robbery, and held for four months.
He was released after being declared innocent, but an appeals court later ordered new proceedings against him.