On Wednesday, two senior Turkish journalists were arrested by German police. Both of the journalists who were detained work for Sabah, a well-known Turkish daily newspaper.
The two men who were arrested were identified by a Sabah employee as Ismail Erel and Cemil Albay. The latter is the editor-in-chief of Sabah in Europe, whereas the former is a representative of the newspaper in Germany.
According to Turkish media sources, the Turkish government has issued a demand to Germany for the release of the two journalists. The reason for the arrests is currently unclear.
German police arrest Turkish journalists
During the raid, laptops, phones, computers, and electrical devices were seized by the police.
“Ismail is an experienced journalist working for more than 30 years as a journalist in Germany, he’s well known amongst other journalists,” commented the same employee.
According to Turkish media sources, such as Anadolu Agency (AA), the Turkish foreign ministry reacted to the arrest of the journalists by issuing a demand to Germany that they be released.
Fahrettin Altun, the communications chief of the Turkish government, expressed strong disapproval of the action taken, stating in a tweet that the arrests were initiated due to a legal complaint filed by a follower of Fethullah Gulen.
Gulen, a Turkish cleric based in the United States, was previously an ally of President Erdogan but has since become an opponent and is held responsible by Ankara for a failed coup attempt in 2016.
“The early morning raids on the homes and offices of Turkish journalists, as well as their detention and the confiscation of their equipment due to their reporting against the terrorist organization Feto in Germany, are a clear violation of freedom of the press,” Altun commented on Twitter.
Sabah gazetesi Almanya Temsilcisi İsmail Erel ve Sabah Avrupa gazetesi Yazı İşleri Müdürü Cemil Albay’ın, Cevheri Güven gibi tescilli bir FETÖ mensubunun şikayeti üzerine göz altına alınmasını kınıyorum.
Almanya’da terör örgütü FETÖ aleyhinde yaptıkları haberler dolayısıyla Türk…
— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) May 17, 2023
“We find this move by Germany to silence journalists unacceptable, and we are concerned about the pressure on the freedom of the press in the country,” he continued.
“We call on German authorities, who protect Feto members and excuse the activities of this bloody terrorist organization, to turn back from this faulty attitude,” concluded Altun.
Bilateral relations between Turkey and Germany
Bilateral relations between Turkey and Germany are complex. There is a sizeable Turkish diaspora population of about three million in Germany.
However, as noted by the German Federal Foreign Office, “bilateral relations are strained against the background of Turkey’s repressive domestic policies, especially in light of the increasing numbers of German nationals being arbitrarily detained or prevented from leaving Turkey since 2017.”
It remains to be seen whether the arrests will impact bilateral relations between Berlin and Ankara.