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Germany says Erdoğan’s spying allegation against journalist absurd

People hold placards with hashtag #FREEDENIZ to protest the detantion of German journalist Deniz Yucel in front of Turkish embassy in Berlin on February 28, 2017 / AFP PHOTO

After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called German daily Die Welt’s Turkey reporter Deniz Yücel a “German agent” who hid in the German Consulate General in İstanbul for a month, a German official told Reuters on Saturday that the allegations were absurd.

The short response to Erdoğan came from an anonymous official in the German ministry of foreign affairs.

Erdoğan claimed that arrested journalist Yücel was a “representative of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK].”

“This person has been hiding in the German Consulate for one month as a representative of the PKK, as a German agent. We said, ‘Give him to us; we will try him,’ but they did not hand him over. When [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel told us this, I told her that ‘when we asked for a terrorist to be extradited to us, what did you say? The judiciary is independent. We trust our independent and impartial judiciary. Hand him over to us so that he can be tried.’ They did not give him to us at first. Later, somehow they handed him over and the judiciary did its job and arrested him,” said Erdoğan during a speech at a ceremony in İstanbul.

Reacting to the cancellations of the referendum campaign programs of Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi in Germany, Erdoğan said: “I was to participate in a program by video conference, but the Constitutional Court took a decision in two hours. They prevented my speech. Cemil Bayık [one of the leaders of the PKK] was able to speak from Kandıl.”

“They [Germany] should be tried for aiding and abetting terrorism. We will expose all of what you have done,” added Erdoğan.

The front page of the pro-government Star daily on Thursday bore a headline that targeted jailed Die Welt reporter Yücel, saying he was not a journalist but rather a hitman of the PKK.

According to Star, Yücel’s reports in Die Welt, from June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017 were examined by Turkey’s Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM), and some of them were deemed to be promoting the views of the terrorist PKK.

Publishing a photo from Yücel’s interview with Bayık on its front page, Star also claimed Yücel purposefully used terms such as “despot,” “oppressive,” “anti-women” and “a leader that oppresses the opposition” in order to insult Turkish government officials.

Yücel, who was detained in Turkey on Feb. 14 as part of an investigation for publishing stories on the leaked emails of President Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, was arrested by a court on Monday.

The prosecutor had accused Yücel of “disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization” and “inciting people to hatred and enmity.”

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