The detention of two Turkish journalists in Frankfurt am Main, and then the summoning of the German Ambassador to Ankara, Jurgen Schulz, to the Turkish Foreign Ministry is only the beginning of a scandal between the countries on the eve of the second round of the presidential elections in Turkey.
Recall that the official statement of the Turkish Foreign Ministry says:
“The detention without any grounds of representatives of the Frankfurt bureau of the Sabah newspaper by the German police today, May 17, is an act of persecution and intimidation of the Turkish press. We strongly condemn this heinous act. Our harsh reaction has been brought to the attention of the German Ambassador in Ankara, who was summoned to the ministry today.”
Earlier, the prosecutor’s office of the city of Darmstadt reported that the apartments of two Turkish journalists located in the vicinity of Frankfurt am Main were searched. According to the department, employees of the Frankfurt bureau of the Sabah newspaper are suspected of “actions that threaten the confidentiality of personal data.” During the searches, law enforcement agencies confiscated electronic media, and the journalists themselves were released after conducting investigative measures.
According to the media, the background of the proceedings is the efforts of the European editorial offices of the Sabah newspaper to extradite supporters of the Gülen Movement living in Germany and other EU countries, recognized in Turkey as a terrorist movement, which arose around the ideas of a Turkish writer Fethullah Gülen. Former President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly called Gülen supporters “enemies of the state” and held them responsible for the failed coup d’état in 2016.
Thus, in an article published in September 2022, Sabah correspondents denounced a Turkish journalist in exile by publishing his photographs, photographs of his house and the address of his shop. In the publication, a supporter of the movement was called the “Goebbels of the Gülen terrorist organization”, spreading “black propaganda and disinformation” against Turkish politicians.
Commenting on the details of the detention, the Turkish Foreign Ministry pointed out that “journalists … were victims of a false denunciation by a member of the Gülen movement for their coverage of the activities of this terrorist organization in Germany.” The agency also called the actions of the German authorities a “deliberate act”, and also accused the German authorities of double standards. “Germany wants to teach the whole world about freedom of the press and freedom of expression, but the actions against the free press show the double standards of the country,” the report says.
Tensions between Ankara and Berlin intensified after just a few hours, when the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused the German authorities of unwillingness to allow the Turkish Central Election Commission to install additional ballot boxes in nine regions of Germany on the eve of the last presidential and parliamentary elections.
“We informed the CEC that it can install ballot boxes in cities where we do not have representative offices, but many of our citizens live, and there are suitable conditions for voting. We have done this in a number of countries. Two more sites were opened in the USA, in Austria, the Netherlands, and France. In Germany, in nine regions where a large number of our citizens live, they were not allowed to organize election commissions,” Cavusoglu reminded, emphasizing that the reason for such actions is “known”.
“In these regions, the majority of votes are cast for our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Germany knows this from previous elections. So I think this behavior of the German authorities is intentional. I wanted to discuss this situation with the head of the German Foreign Ministry, but there was no answer. We couldn’t even talk on the phone,” Cavusoglu continued. Commenting on the incident with the arrest of Turkish journalists, the Foreign Minister called the incident a “new attempt” by official Berlin to prevent Erdogan’s victory in the elections.
“And now, when it became clear that the president will win in the second round, they are also doing everything they can to prevent,” the diplomat said.
Recall that on May 14, presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Turkey. According to the results of processing 100% of the ballots, the incumbent President Erdogan won 49.51% of the votes, opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu – 44.88%. To win in the first round, a candidate had to get more than 50% of the votes, and therefore the second round of voting will take place on May 28.