The German Journalists’ Association (DJV) has warned journalists against traveling to Turkey for business or personal purposes. Pointing to the detention of opposition Left Party MP Gökay Akbulut, DJV President and journalist Frank Überall said, “This latest incident shows once again that the Erdogan autocracy sees its critics as ‘militant enemies of the state’.”
The spokesperson of the German Federal Foreign Office, responding to a question at the federal government’s press conference this morning about whether journalists are in more danger than other professions, drew attention to the federal government’s travel statement for Turkey. The statement has long warned of arbitrary arrests and detentions in Turkey, especially of dissidents and citizens of Alevi and Kurdish origin, who could be detained or sent back with an entry ban. The statement said that such sanctions could be triggered by simply liking a post on social media, or by allegations of insulting the president.
“If even parliamentary immunity does not protect a person from being detained in Turkey, the danger for journalists is much greater,” DJV President Frank Überall said today in a statement on the temporary detention of MP Akbulut. “If a journalist criticized President Erdoğan or the ruling AKP party in his or her reporting or on social media, he or she should stay away from Turkey,” Überall told fellow journalists, adding that “anything else is an unpredictable risk.”
Akbulut detained for a while in early August
It emerged at the end of the week that Gökay Akbulut, a member of the Bundestag from Germany’s opposition Left Party, was briefly detained earlier this month when he tried to enter Turkey, despite claiming to be a member of parliament. Akbulut was reportedly released after intensive efforts by the German Foreign Ministry and German representatives in Turkey.
It was also reported that Akbulut was detained after the Kayseri Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into four social media posts he made in 2019, alleging terrorist propaganda.
Akbulut, who has been a member of parliament since 2017, said in a statement on social media that the incident showed once again that there is no separation of powers in Turkey, “But don’t worry! You will not be able to intimidate me by issuing an arrest warrant against me,” she wrote.
Akbulut, who was born in Kayseri, also announced that he will organize an official visit to Turkey in October with the Turkey-Germany Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group.