Turkey blasts German Chancellor Merkel for criticism on ‘misuse of Interpol’

Turkey blasts German Chancellor Merkel for criticism on ‘misuse of Interpol’

Turkey blasts German Chancellor Merkel for criticism on ‘misuse of Interpol’

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Ankara has refuted recent criticism by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who accused Turkey of “misusing” Interpol while commenting on the release of a Turkish-origin German citizen in Spain, saying the suspect was not sought for his journalistic work but for a fatal armed robbery in 1984. 

“The accusation by [Merkel] that Interpol channels were misused by our country is unacceptable,” read an Aug. 22 statement by the Interior Ministry, noting that the release of Doğan Akhanlı came after the German chancellor’s statements.

The ministry mistakenly used the name “Erdoğan” instead of “Doğan” in its statement. 

The Cologne-based Akhanlı, who has written widely on Turkey’s human rights record, was detained on Aug. 19 while on holiday in Granada following an Interpol red notice.

Akhanlı was previously granted political asylum and citizenship in Germany, but was arrested then released by the Spanish court, on the condition that he stays in Madrid while the authorities await the formal extradition request from Turkey.

Merkel welcomed the release on Aug. 21, saying countries “must not misuse international organizations such as Interpol.”

However, the Turkish Interior Ministry claimed that Akhanlı was a member of the now-disbanded outlawed People’s Liberation Party-Front of Turkey (T-HKPC) and was sought for the robbery of a foreign exchange office in Istanbul’s central Tahtakale neighborhood in 1984 with two other people, during which the owner of the office was killed. 

A red bulletin was released for him on Oct. 21, 2013, following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeals, it stated. 

“Interpol’s suspension of the red bulletin, ignoring its own rules, brings into question the reliability and impartiality of the organization,” it added. 

Akhanlı who was jailed after the crime, was later acquitted but he had his citizenship revoked in a cabinet decision on May 14, 1998. 

He was caught while trying to enter Turkey with a German passport in 2010, the ministry stated. The ministry appealed to the international police organization for his arrest after the Supreme Court of Appeals later reversed the acquittal verdict. At the end of 2014, Akhanlı was seen in Germany but Berlin returned an official extradition demand for him, the ministry also said. 

European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn told Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published late on Aug. 21 that the detention of Akhanlı upon Ankara’s request was “unacceptable.”

Relations between Turkey and Germany, home to three million people of Turkish origin, have recently been strained, particularly after last year’s failed coup attempt.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on Turkish-origin German citizens on Aug. 18 not to vote for Merkel’s Christian Democrats, Martin Schulz’s Social Democrat Party (SDP) or the Green Party in the upcoming elections because he said they were the “enemies of Turkey.”

Merkel described his words on Aug. 20 as “absolutely unacceptable.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also said on Aug. 21 that Berlin and the rest of Europe should support the “democratically minded” majority of Turks who do not back President Erdoğan.