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2 German journalists denied press card renewal, forced to leave Turkey

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Two German news correspondents were forced to leave Turkey on Sunday after the Turkish government refused to renew their press credentials, a move condemned by Berlin as “unacceptable.”

Jorg Brase, İstanbul bureau chief for German public television ZDF, and Thomas Seibert, a writer for the Tagesspiegel newspaper, had their applications for press cards rejected by the Turkish government for unknown reasons.

They were told they had to leave Turkey within 10 days.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Saturday tweeted that it was “unacceptable” that German journalists could not “do their job freely” in Turkey.

He told Tagesspiegel it was “incompatible with our understanding of press freedom.”

At an İstanbul news conference held before they left Turkey, Brase and Seibert accused Ankara of trying to “silence” international media.

“The Turkish government managed to more or less silence national media, and now they are trying to do it with the international media,” Brase said.

“What we will definitely do is … keep on reporting on Turkish issues, but we will do it from outside Turkey, unfortunately.”

Seibert said he had been accredited as a correspondent in Turkey since 1997.

Relations between Berlin and Ankara had been strained following a failed 2016 coup and the arrest by Turkish authorities of tens of thousands of people including Germans.

But relations improved after the release of several German citizens, including German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel and journalist Meşale Tolu.

Around 40 foreign journalists in Turkey, including German reporters, are still awaiting accreditation.

German public broadcaster NDR correspondent Halil Gülbeyaz said this month his application for accreditation had also been rejected.

In the meantime, the German Foreign Ministry updated its travel advisory for Turkey on Saturday to say there was a risk that the Turkish government could “take further measures against representatives of the German media or civil society institutions.”

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