Turkey drops investigation into Turkish-German journalist over tweets

Journalist Tuncay Özdamar (Photo: WDR)

Turkish prosecutors have decided to drop an investigation into Tuncay Özdamar, an editor for German public broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln (WDR), which had led to his detention at the airport in Ankara in September, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).

Özdamar was being investigated on charges of “targeting public officials involved in the fight against terrorism” due to tweets in 2018 in which he allegedly targeted İstanbul judge Murat Erten.

The German-language tweets, translated by Özdamar’s lawyer, MLSA Co-director Veysel Ok and submitted to the prosecutor’s office, stated that Özdamar had not targeted Erten, contrary to police claims.

Özdamar said last month that his tweets in 2018 concerned journalists Murat Sabuncu and Bağış Erten, who were fired by the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper following a change in the daily’s management. The journalist said he wanted to show solidarity with his colleagues.

He said Sabuncu’s first name and Bağış’s last name were somehow combined, making it appear that he was targeting judge Murat Erten.

The prosecutor’s office decided that there was no reason to further investigate the journalist after receiving the Turkish translations of his tweets, which revealed that he did not target judge Erten.

Özdamar announced the news on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday.

“Good news. The absurd investigation against me in Turkey has been dropped,” Özdamar tweeted in German.

He said there are still people in Turkey who do their job properly.

Özdamar was kept in police custody for 14 hours after his detention at Esenboğa Airport in Ankara on September 30 where he had travelled to visit his ailing mother.

In an interview with WDR last month, Özdamar, who has had German citizenship for 20 years, said his detention at the airport in Ankara was a “shock” for him, that he has been traveling to Turkey frequently these days and never imagined he would end up in custody.

In a similar development in August, Gökay Akbulut, a member of the German parliament from the Left Party, was detained upon her arrival at an airport in southern Turkey due to her social media posts but was released after the German government intervened.

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