Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chairman Mehdi Eker said on Thursday during a televised program that he was deported by German police from Hannover airport last Friday when he landed to conduct rallies in Germany to seek the support of Turkish expatriates for a referendum in Turkey on April 16.
Speaking during an interview on TGRT TV on Thursday, Eker said police confronted him when he landed and told him that he was there for political propaganda and would not be permitted into Germany.
“When we landed at Hannover last Friday, [German] police intervened. They read a document to us saying: ‘You came here to demand votes. We cannot allow you to hold political meetings’,” he said.
Eker also said the document was signed by the mayor of Hannover and that police told him he would be sentenced to one year in jail and fined if he insisted on holding rallies.
Earlier last week, Hannover authorities said that Eker’s program had been canceled due to problems relating to the meeting hall.
Eker’s political program planned at a mosque compound in Wolfenbüttel on Saturday was banned by the municipality, which expressed concerns similar to those given in a Hannover mosque program ban — that a political event in a mosque compound would not be appropriate.
The Salzgitter Municipality also stated on Saturday that Eker’s program in the city had been canceled. The owner of the hall informed the municipality of the cancellation.
In a similar move, the Braunschweig Municipality stated that Eker’s rally in the city had been canceled by the owner of the restaurant where it was planned to take place.
Lower Saxony Interior Minister Boris Pistorius also stated that Eker’s political rallies have been prohibited in the state.
Turkish politicians have been traveling to Europe to campaign for an April 16 referendum in Turkey that will greatly expand President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers.
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium have recently canceled the rallies, leading to crises between Turkey and European countries.
Millions of Turkish citizens who are eligible to vote in Turkish elections live across all of Europe.