Germany has advised its citizens they risk arrest for expressing opinions that would be tolerated at home but may not be by Turkish authorities. German nationals have been arbitrarily arrested over the last two years.
The Foreign Ministry in Berlin has updated its travel advisory for Turkey, saying opinions expressed freely in Germany may not be tolerated by Turkish authorities. The advice was directed at journalists, at people who had taken part in some meetings and at anyone making social media comments critical of the Turkish government.
The ministry stated that a number of European — including German — journalists had been denied accreditation in Turkey without explanation. “It cannot be ruled out … that the Turkish government will take further action against representatives of German media and civil society organizations,” an updated Foreign Ministry travel advisory stated on Saturday.
“Statements, which are covered by the German legal understanding of the freedom of expression, can lead in Turkey to occupational restrictions and criminal proceedings,” the updated advice said. Over the last two years, a number of German nationals have been arbitrarily detained, the ministry noted.
‘Incompatible with our understanding of press freedom’
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has criticized the Turkish authorities’ decision not to issue new press credentials to a number of German correspondents. It was unacceptable they were prevented from working freely in Turkey, he told newspaper Der Tagesspiegel am Sonntag: “When journalists are prevented from doing their work, that is incompatible with our understanding of press freedom,” he said.
The Foreign Ministry advice was also directed at holidaymakers who may have attended meetings organized by groups banned in Turkey. They also risked being detained, the ministry warned.
The advisory also cautioned anyone who made, or endorsed, social media comments critical of the Turkish government, as they also risked arrest.
Authorities in Turkey are suspicious of any connections to the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara has accused him of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016.