A German citizen of Turkish origin, Hüseyin M., who travelled to Turkey for vacation, has been arrested on charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Spiegel online reported on Monday.
A heavily armed counterterrorism unit first arrived at the house of Hüseyin M.’s in-laws in Kuşadası, about 100 kilometers south of İzmir, on the night of Aug. 24. He and his wife had come from the German city of Brunswick, intending to stay for two weeks, visit relatives and relax.
The police asked Hüseyin M. to follow them to the station. There they told him he had insulted Erdoğan on his Facebook page — in 2014 and 2015. Hüseyin M, had once referred to Erdoğan in his posts as a “dictator,” another time as a “child murderer.” Hüseyin M. denied the allegations.
The family quickly arranged for a lawyer in Turkey. On Saturday Hüseyin M. was questioned by a prosecutor, from whom he learned that somebody had e-mailed a complaint about him. The description fit with the accusation that the Turkish government in Germany – and in other countries — maintains a sprawling spy network. Thus, the Turkish judiciary first became aware of Hüseyin M. and his alleged insults. The same day he appeared before a judge but was released.
On Saturday evening, the police arrested him again. There was an “objection by the prosecutor,” he was told. Again he appeared in court and again denounced the warrant. However, a travel ban was imposed on him, and he was told to report three times a week to the police.
On Sunday afternoon, the police appeared for the third time at the family’s holiday home. Since he does not have a permanent residence in Turkey, they would have to arrest him, they said. This time the court issued an arrest warrant.
Hüseyin M. is now one of five German citizens in prison in Turkey. It is believed that there could be more because according to human rights activists, there have been many arrests in recent days and weeks, among whom there could be German citizens who have been unable as of yet to contact a German diplomatic mission.
Hüseyin M. was born in Tunceli, eastern Turkey, in 1976 and went to Germany as a 13-year-old. He has been a German citizen since 2012. German diplomats have reportedly been denied contact with him so far, as has his wife. Only the parents-in-law were able to visit him once in prison, his brother Deniz told Spiegel. Hüseyin M.’s lawyer is reportedly trying to locate a document proving renunciation of his Turkish citizenship, proving he is not Turkish, only German, entitling him to consular support by German diplomats.
According to Turkish criminal law, Hüseyin M. could receive a prison sentence of up to four years on charges of insulting the president. The Turkish judiciary has initiated several thousand such cases since Erdoğan took office in August 2014.