A spokesperson for German Foreign Ministry said two German citizens were detained in Turkey’s coastal city of İzmir for political accusations. “The Federal Government tries to establish contact with the detainees,” the spokesperson said.
“On August 31, two German nationals were detained in Turkey for political reasons,” German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr said, adding that the ministry was trying to provide consular assistance.
Berlin said on Friday that these two detentions brought the total number of German political prisoners in Turkish custody to 12 amid badly frayed ties between the countries. The German General Consulate in İzmir had been informed by non-governmental bodies about the detention of the two.
The consulate in the western city of İzmir was first informed of the detentions. Confirmation then came not from the Turkish government but from Antalya airport police, Adebahr said. She declined to give further details about the case, saying only that German authorities had so far not been allowed access to the pair.
The Turkish airport police in Antalya confirmed the detention at the request of the consulate. There are 56 German citizens in Turkish prisons. 12 of them are jailed for their political activities.
“Our demands to Turkey are very clear,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert. “We expect Turkey to release the German nationals who were arrested on unjustifiable grounds.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has demanded the release of German citizens detained in Turkey, describing their imprisonment as “unjustified” on Tuesday.
Relations between Berlin and Ankara have been in a downward spiral since last summer, when a failed coup against Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked a crackdown on civil liberties and mass arrests of the political opposition, activists and journalists, including German citizens.
Germany has accused Erdoğan of attempting to silence his critics at home and abroad. Erdoğan, in turn, has called on voters in Germany to reject the country’s biggest parties in next month’s election.
Speaking at her annual summer news conference on Tuesday, Merkel said Turkey’s jailing of German citizens was further damaging already fraught ties between the two countries.
“We must see how things develop but we are calling now, very clearly, for the release of those who are imprisoned,” she said.
“Several German citizens are being held in prison, which we believe is not justified. We therefore decided to take a new direction in our policy towards Turkey.”
Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish journalist, was arrested in Turkey in February on charges of terror propaganda.
In July, Turkish authorities arrested German human rights activist Peter Steudtner and nine others, charging them with “committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member.”