BERLIN Feb 28 German Justice Minister Heiko
Maas on Tuesday criticised Turkey's arrest of a German
journalist and said politicians who wanted to visit Germany
should respect press freedoms, amid reports of a possible trip
by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey's arrest of Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish dual
national and correspondent for Die Welt newspaper, provoked
strong reactions from Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign
Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Monday.
The issue has further strained ties between the two NATO
allies after Ankara's arrests and sackings of tens of thousands
of people since a failed July 15 coup, and a federal
investigation into possible spying by Turkish clerics in
Gabriel was expected to make another statement on Turkey on
Tuesday evening, the foreign ministry said.
Maas described Ankara's treatment of Yucel as "completely
disproportionate" and said its prospects of joining the EU would
become "increasingly difficult to impossible" unless it stuck to
basic European values.
"With respect to visits by Turkish politicians in Germany,
it is clear that those who want to benefit from freedom of
speech here should also safeguard the rule of law and freedom of
the press at home," Maas said in a statement.
Protests were planned in Berlin and other cities across
Germany, Switzerland and Austria on Tuesday. The French foreign
ministry said "it is fundamental that Turkey respects its
commitments to the international community regarding freedom of
speech, especially regarding the press, which is essential for a
Berlin is counting on Turkey to uphold a migrant deal with
the European Union under which Turkey prevents refugees from
crossing from its shores to Greece.
Bild newspaper last week quoted a senior diplomat as saying
Erdogan planned to visit Germany in March to rally support among
Germany's 1.5 million Turkish citizens in an April 16
constitutional referendum on strengthening the powers of the
The foreign ministry last week said it had not been notified
of any visit by Erdogan. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim
spoke at a rally in Germany this month during a private visit.
Yucel was detained on Feb. 14 after he reported on emails
that a leftist hacker collective had purportedly obtained from
the private account of Berat Albayrak, Turkey's energy minister
and Erdogan's son-in-law.
On Monday, an Istanbul court ordered Yucel jailed pending
trial on charges including propaganda in support of a terrorist
organisation. He is the first German reporter to be held in a
widespread crackdown that has frequently targeted the media.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Andrew Roche)