Germany awards journalist in jail, protects prosecutor who jailed him

Germany awards journalist in jail, protects prosecutor who jailed him

Looking at Turkey’s relations with Europe, one has to put Germany aside. Unlike the crisis with Holland, which can be overcome and explained by the heat of elections in both countries, the tension between Turkey and Germany goes deeper. On several foreign policy issues, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the sole decision maker.

In relations with Germany, however, Erdoğan is not the only denominator. For a long time there has been a very critical outlook against Germany among the Turkish Foreign Ministry bureaucracy, which perceives a tremendously hostile attitude from Berlin.

“We are telling the Germans that we should not see Germany behind each and every one of our enemies,” one Turkish diplomat told me. But officials are extremely uncomfortable with the way the German government has been handling the issue of what prosecutors call the Fetullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), as well as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The latter is also recognized as a terror organization by Germany. At a time when there is extreme urgency for international cooperation to fight terrorism, Turkish officials find it extremely frustrating that the PKK can find enough room to conduct its propaganda activities, recruit militant and financial funds in Europe.

The FETÖ issue is a relatively new problem in relations, and one could blame the Turkish side for not providing enough evidence to prove a relationship tying some Gülenists in Germany directly with the coup attempt in Turkey.  Unfortunately, the Turkish justice system has not been differentiating between those who actually planned and committed the crime and those who are simply sympathizers. 

But the German state system is sophisticated enough to make such a differentiation. In that respect, one cannot understand how a vicious person like notorious Gülenist prosecutor Zekeriya Öz can find safe haven in Germany. How can Germany ask for justice for journalists in jail in Turkey while at the same time providing protection to Öz, who has sent journalists and many other innocent people to jail based on fake accusations!

German award to Turkish journalist in jail

Imprisoned Turkish journalist Ahmet Şık was recently granted the Günter Wallraff Critical Journalism Award. His wife went to Cologne last weekend to receive his award. 

While there she may even have come across Öz, who in 2011 ordered for Şık to be arrested as a member of the so-called Ergenekon terror organization. Öz also demanded the confiscation of Şık’s unprinted book, “The Army of the Imam,” which revealed the Gülen organization’s scheming within the security apparatus. Şık, together with fellow journalist Nedim Gürsel, spent 375 days in jail because of Öz.

Today, Germany is refusing to return Öz to Turkey, claiming that his case is not a legal case but rather a political one! 

How can Germany expect us to believe in its sincerity when asking for the release of journalists in jail while it is protecting a mentality that has unjustly sent journalists to jail? 

Unfortunately, the irony is that the Turkish government is weakening its hand in the FETÖ file by sending a journalist to jail like Şık, who has himself been a victim of FETÖ in the past.

The Europeans are somewhat right to criticize Turkey for exaggerating the FETÖ threat. Their criticisms that the government is taking disproportionate measures to purge Gülenists are justified.

Yet Ankara’s criticism that Europeans are taking the Gülenist threat too lightly, and remain rather insensitive to Turkey’s quest for the return of criminals, is also justified.