The German Foreign Ministry has denied Turkey’s accusations of violation of freedom of the press over the brief detention of two journalists from the pro-government Sabah daily.
The ministry summoned Turkish Ambassador to Germany Ahmet Başar Şen on Tuesday and informed him that “the federal government firmly denies the accusations made by the Turkish government in relation to the freedoms of expression and the press as well as the judiciary in Germany,” according to a tweet from the ministry’s account.
Bei der heutigen Einbestellung des türkischen Botschafters wurde ihm mitgeteilt, dass die Bundesregierung die Vorwürfe der türkischen Regierung in Bezug auf die Meinungs- und Pressefreiheit sowie die Justiz in Deutschland entschieden zurückweist.
— Auswärtiges Amt (@AuswaertigesAmt) May 23, 2023
The German police last Wednesday raided the offices of the Sabah newspaper in Frankfurt and briefly detained Sabah representative in Europe İsmail Erel and the daily’s news coordinator for its Europe edition, Cemil Albay, following raids on their apartments.
A local German prosecutor told the media that the journalists had been charged with the “dangerous dissemination of personal data.” It later emerged that the journalists were being accused of spreading private information about some Turkish journalists in exile such as investigative journalist Cevheri Güven, who was targeted last year on the front page of Sabah, which published secretly taken photos and his home address in Germany.
The detention of the Sabah journalists, who were released the same day, angered the Turkish government and the pro-government media, which accused Germany of violating freedom of the press.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador in Ankara over the detention of the journalists the same day.
The ministry denounced the “harassment and intimidation” of the reporters, saying the detentions were a “deliberate act,” coming days after Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14.
“Germany’s action against the free press, which aims to teach the whole world about freedom of press and expression, reveals its double-standard approach,” the ministry said.
Fahrettin Altun, Erdoğan’s communications director, also condemned the detention of the two Sabah journalists, saying the detention of the journalists and the confiscation of their equipment by the police was a violation of freedom of the press while voicing concern about pressure on journalists in Germany.
Their accusations about press freedom in Germany have come at a time when Turkey, which is among the top jailers of the journalists in the world, was ranked 165th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, among 180 countries, not far from North Korea, which occupies the bottom of the list.
Germany, however, ranks 21st on the same list.