Turkey calls German justice minister’s invitation to Dündar a ‘provocation’

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BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 07: German President Joachim Gauck (R) and Can Dundar (L), the former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, meet at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany on November 07, 2016. AFP

Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu said on Thursday that German Justice Minister Heiko Maas’s invitation to Turkish journalist and former Cumhuriyet daily Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, currently living in exile in Germany, as guest of honor at an official reception on Wednesday was a “provocation.”

Speaking during a press conference on Thursday, Müftüoğlu said Dündar’s invitation to the German ministry’s reception, days before Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Turkey on Feb. 2, “has to be evaluated as a provocation.”

In contradiction to the positive atmosphere [in bilateral relations between Turkey and Germany], the invitation of a person who has jurisdictional proceedings against him on charges of acting against the national security of our country has been reported,” he added.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the German charge d’affaires in Ankara to provide more details about an invitation to Dündar for the reception in Berlin.

According to Deutsche Welle (DW), Maas invited Dündar, whose detention is demanded in two separate investigations, to speak on the importance he places on democracy and press freedom in Turkey. Dündar also delivered a speech about press freedom at the reception.

Dündar had been arrested and jailed for 92 days along with colleague Erdem Gül from Cumhuriyet for publishing a story on Turkish intelligence trucks carrying hidden weapons bound for Syria in early 2014. They were arrested on Nov. 26, 2015, and released on Feb. 26, 2016 following a Constitutional Court decision.

An İstanbul court acquitted Dündar and Gül of charges of attempting to overthrow the government while ordering that the charges of “knowingly and willfully helping a terrorist organization” be separated from the trial.

Shortly after his release and an armed attack against him, Dündar quit his position as editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet and left Turkey as scores of other journalists under pressure have done.

While Dündar left Turkey prior to a failed coup attempt on July 15, his wife was stopped by police at İstanbul Atatürk Airport and her passport was seized under the state of emergency that was declared days after the coup attempt. He has lived in Germany since June 2016.

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