Turkish authorities have arrested a reporter for a prominent German newspaper on charges of propaganda in support of a terrorist organisation and inciting the public to violence, according to a court witness.
Authorities initially detained Deniz YÃ¼cel, a correspondent for Die Welt newspaper, on 14 February after he reported on emails that a leftist hacker collective had purportedly obtained from the private account of Berat Albayrak, Turkeyâs energy minister and the son-in-law of Turkeyâs president Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan.
On Monday, an Istanbul court ordered YÃ¼cel, a dual citizen of Turkey and Germany, to be jailed pending trial, a witness at the court told Reuters. He is the first German reporter to be held in a widespread crackdown that has followed last yearâs failed 15 July coup in Turkey and has frequently targeted the media.
More than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from Turkeyâs police, military, civil service and private sector since the failed coup and tens of thousands arrested. Ankara says the measures are necessary given the security threats it faces.
But Turkeyâs allies, including Germany, fear ErdoÄan is using the purges as a pretext to curtail dissent. Relations between the Nato allies have been strained by the coup but Germany desperately needs Turkey for its part in a deal to control the flow of migrants into Europe.
YÃ¼celâs arrest could also put the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, into an awkward position less than seven months before what promises to be a tightly contested election in September. Merkel criticised the move as âbitter and disappointingâ and called it âdisproportionateâ.
She said: âThe German government expects that the Turkish judiciary, in its treatment of the YÃ¼cel case, takes account of the high value of freedom of the press for every democratic society. We will continue to insist on a fair and legal treatment of Deniz YÃ¼cel and hope that he will soon regain his freedom.â
Germanyâs foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, was even more harsh in his assessment of the case, saying it showed in âglaring lightâ the differences in the two countries in evaluating freedom of press and freedom of opinion.