Turkish minister denies reports of Schröder’s mediation for German activist
Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül has denied a statement by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel that Gerhard Schröder, a former Chancellor of Germany, mediated for the release of a detained German human rights activist in Turkey.
“Such claims have nothing to do with reality. The Turkish justice system is independent and impartial,” Gül told reporters on Oct. 27.
“It is impossible to accept these claims. The Turkish judiciary makes decisions in accordance with the files in hand,” he said.
“At the hearing the day before, the court gave a decision within the boundaries of the law and the judges made rulings in an impartial and independent manner,” Gül added.
Separately, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held a phone conversation with Gabriel on Oct. 27, after German weekly Der Spiegel reported that human rights activist Peter Steudtner was released following the mediation of Schröder, who intervened directly with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
A Turkish court said on Oct. 25 that Steudtner and seven other human rights activists should be released after the Turkish public prosecutor requested an end to the pre-trial detention of the activists.
Der Spiegel reported that Schröder travelled to Turkey a week after the German general election on Sept. 24 to speak with Erdoğan about the activist and other German detainees in Turkey.
“I am very grateful to Gerhard Schröder for his intervention,” Gabriel told the weekly.
Schröder met with Chancellor Angela Merkel before travelling to Ankara, according to Der Spiegel.
“It is a first sign of detente, as the Turkish government has kept all its commitments,” Gabriel said.
“Now we must continue to work for the release of the other detainees,” he added.
Steudtner, an activist and documentary filmmaker, had been arrested along with members of Amnesty International in July and had been held on widely disputed terror charges.
He arrived in Germany on Oct. 26 after he was released from the Turkish prison. He had been detained since July 5, when he was arrested on controversial terror charges.
Relations between Turkey and Germany have been shaky since early this year, when the latter banned Turkish ministers’ campaigning in its territories before the April 16 constitutional referendum. The arrest of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel in February and of Steudner in July, as well as Ankara’s refusal to let a group of German lawmakers visit their troops at the İncirlik air base in southern Turkey have also fueled the dispute.