German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday warned Turkey not to “misuse” Interpol to pursue its critics after a Spanish court ordered the conditional release of a Turkish-German writer wanted by Ankara, AFP reports.
Dogan Akhanli, who writes about Turkey’s human rights record, was arrested Saturday while on holiday in Granada on an Interpol red notice, similar to an international arrest warrant, from Ankara.
“That’s not on,” said Merkel about the latest case of a German citizen being pursued by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, adding that countries “must not misuse international organisations such as Interpol”.
Cologne-based Akhanli, who has previously been jailed in Turkey before being granted political asylum and citizenship in Germany, was released by the Spanish court on condition he stay in Madrid while authorities await the formal extradition request from Turkey.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also greeted the writer’s release and said “it would be terrible if, even on the other side of Europe, Turkey succeeded in having people who raise their voices against President Erdogan arrested”.
Merkel said it was “unfortunately one of many cases” of Turkey pursuing German citizens, mentioning Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel of the Die Welt newspaper, who faces trial on terror charges.
Such cases had led Germany to “massively change” its Turkey policy, Merkel said, speaking at a TV forum with voters, and referring to stepped up travel warnings and moves likely to dampen new investment in Turkey.
German Green MPs have long taken up the cause of Akhanli, saying he is a victim of political persecution.
He was jailed in Turkey from 1985 to 1987 before moving to Cologne in the 1990s and becoming a German citizen in 2001.
According to the BBC, Mr Akhanli, 60, has written about the killing in 2007 of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, and the 1915 Armenian Genocide- recogized by the German parliament last year.
Mr Akhanli’s own website describes him as a former “political prisoner” in Turkey between 1985 and 1987. He fled to Germany in 1991 as a refugee, achieving citizenship in 2001.
He was arrested again in 2010 when he visited Istanbul, accused of a 1989 armed robbery. He was acquitted and released after a number of months – only to have proceedings reinstated at a later date.