Germany summons Turkish ambassador over arrest of human right activists

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The German Foreign Ministry has summoned Turkish Ambassador Ali Kemal Aydın over the recent arrest of human rights activists, including German citizen Peter Steudtner.

According to a statement from the German Federal Foreign Office on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer said: “The Turkish government needs to immediately and directly hear the German government’s outrage and incomprehension as well as its crystal-clear expectations in the case of Peter Steudtner and, this time, without diplomatic niceties.” 

Schäfer said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had interrupted his summer vacation to attend government consultations over the Turkish court’s decision to jail Steudtner, a human rights trainer who was taken into custody earlier this month.

“The Turkish Ambassador was told in no uncertain terms that the detention of Peter Steudtner and other human rights activists is incomprehensible, unacceptable and utterly inexplicable. The German Government demands that Peter Steudtner be released immediately and that its consular staff be granted unrestricted access to him without delay. The representative of the Turkish Government has promised to convey this message immediately to the Turkish Government,” the statement said.

Describing the Turkish government’s accusations against human rights activists as “absurd,” Germany said that “accusations of links to terrorist organizations have clearly been invented – that is, unless one wishes to classify Amnesty International and other human rights organizations as terrorist organizations.”

According to Germany, the Turkish judiciary is arresting journalists and activists – apparently on the political orders of the Turkish government – as in the cases of Deniz Yücel and Meşale Tolu.

Steudtner was one of 10 people – including Amnesty International’s Turkey Director İdil Eser – who were detained in a July 5 police raid on a hotel on the island of Büyükada, off İstanbul, while participating in a workshop on digital safety. Four detainees were released on Tuesday morning, while the other six were jailed pending trial. The six are accused of aiding a terrorist group.

Ankara’s ties with Berlin were strained after German-Turkish journalists Deniz Yücel and Meşale Tolu were arrested on Feb. 14 and April 30, respectively, on charges of disseminating the propaganda of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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