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Turkish gov’t refuses to allow more than 120 German citizens to leave Turkey: report

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Turkish authorities are refusing to allow more than 120 German citizens, many of whom are Turkish or Kurdish Germans, to leave the country due to their criticism of the Turkish government or their affiliation with some groups not liked by the government, according to a report in the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.

The German daily said more than half the German citizens who are currently in Turkey are in custody, while the others are not allowed to return home because of a travel ban.

Tagesspiegel based its report on a response from the German government to a question from Turkish-born German politician Gökay Akbulut from the Left Party, who asked the German government about the number of German citizens who are unable to leave Turkey.

Many are being kept in the country because of their membership in Kurdish associations or criticism of the Turkish government, according to the daily.

Some people linked to the Gülen movement also face detention or arrest in Turkey on accusations that they are members of a “terrorist” organization.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In its response to Akbulut’s request, the German Foreign Ministry said 64 Germans are currently in jail in Turkey; in June the number was 55. In addition 58 Germans are currently subject to a travel ban in Turkey — in June there were 49. Some German citizens were not even allowed to enter Turkey. The German Foreign Ministry said 17 German citizens have faced entry refusals from Turkey so far in 2021, while this figure had been three until June.

Akbulut told Tagesspiegel that she had heard from those affected that “people have been subjected to arrest warrants from the Turkish judiciary simply because of their commitment to Kurdish culture and language in Germany” or due to their social media posts. They are accused of, among other things, insulting the president and sometimes even membership or support of alleged terrorist organizations.

According to Akbulut, the increasing number of Germans imprisoned in Turkey is “the result of the German government’s weak foreign policy towards Turkey.” The Turkish opposition had hoped for more support from the change of government in Germany and from the Greens’ foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock. “Unfortunately, this expectation did not come true,” said Akbulut. “In the federal government, geopolitical interests come before international human rights.”

Over the past years, a series of arrests of German citizens for “political reasons” such as journalists Deniz Yücel and Meşale Tolu led to serious crises between Berlin and Ankara and prompted the German Foreign Ministry to issue travel warnings to German citizens planning to vacation in Turkey, saying they could be arbitrarily imprisoned on terror charges or links to terrorist groups.

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