“Incalculable risk”: Association advises journalists against traveling to Turkey

The German Association of Journalists (DJV) has advised media professionals against professional and private trips to Turkey. The temporary arrest of MP Gökay Akbulut when she entered Turkey in early August shows “once again that the Erdogan autocracy sees its critics as militant enemies of the state and persecutes them whenever they have the opportunity,” said DJV national chairman Frank Überall according to a statement on Monday.

If even the parliamentary immunity of a member of parliament does not protect against arrest, the danger for journalists is all the greater.

Left-wing politician Akbulut was briefly arrested in Turkey on August 3. An arrest warrant canceled by the Turkish authorities was issued because of “alleged terror propaganda” in four-year-old posts on social media, Akbulut told the “Mannheimer Morgen”. She referred to her Kurdish-Alevi background. The German embassy in Ankara and the foreign office got involved and thus caused her release.

Akbulut has been a member of the Bundestag since 2017. She was born in Turkey. She has repeatedly been critical of the Turkish government and is campaigning for the German ban on the Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK to be lifted. The PKK is classified as a terrorist organization in Turkey, but also in the EU.

Everywhere went on to say: “Any journalist who has ever made critical comments about Turkey, its president or the governing AKP party in their own articles and on social networks should stay away from the country.” Anything else is an incalculable risk.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office said at the government press conference on Monday that she “cannot assess at this point” whether media workers in Turkey are at greater risk. Like the DJV, she referred to the travel and safety instructions of the Federal Foreign Office.

These have long contained warnings of possible arrest or entry bans. Specifically, the instructions from the Federal Foreign Office say: “Due to the broad definition of terrorism in Turkey, which the European Court of Human Rights considers illegal, mere statements, sharing, commenting on or ‘liking’ posts on social media (…) sufficient for criminal prosecution.” (dpa, AFP)

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