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HomeHeadlineGerman Journalists Union Advises Journalists Against Traveling to Turkey

German Journalists Union Advises Journalists Against Traveling to Turkey

The German Journalists Union (DJV) has issued a cautionary advisory to journalists, urging them to avoid traveling to Turkey for either work-related assignments or personal reasons. The DJV emphasized that Turkey, a country where even elected officials can be subjected to detention, poses significant risks to journalists’ safety.

Dated August 14, 2023, the advisory from the German Journalists Union underscores their concern about the safety of journalists considering trips to Turkey. DJV President Frank Überall referred to the recent arrest of Gökay Akbulut, a member of the opposition Left Party in Germany, and stated, “This incident once again highlights the authoritarian tendencies of the Erdogan regime, which labels its critics as ‘militant enemies of the state.'”

As reported by DW Türkçe, during a press conference held by the federal government, a spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry responded to a question about the heightened risks faced by journalists in Turkey. The spokesperson noted that the federal government’s travel advisory for Turkey should be given due consideration in light of these concerns.

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The advisory also draws attention to the ongoing risk of arbitrary detentions and arrests in Turkey. It specifically highlights the vulnerability of opposition figures and individuals with Alevi and Kurdish backgrounds, who could be subjected to detention or even deported with entry bans. Additionally, the advisory suggests that even engaging with social media content could inadvertently trigger sanctions. Allegations such as insulting the President are cited as examples of actions that could lead to serious consequences.

Frank Überall, the DJV President, raised a poignant concern about the implications of Gökay Akbulut’s temporary detention. He stated, “If even the protection of parliamentary immunity is ineffective at preventing someone from being detained in Turkey, the risks faced by journalists are substantially magnified.” Überall offered a direct message to fellow journalists, advising, “Any journalist who has criticized Turkey, President Erdoğan, or the ruling AKP party in their reporting or on social media should exercise caution when considering travel to Turkey.” He underscored the unpredictable nature of potential outcomes in such situations.

The incident involving Gökay Akbulut highlighted the risks faced by individuals critical of the Turkish government. Akbulut, a federal parliamentary member, was briefly detained upon her attempted entry into Turkey. Despite identifying herself as a member of parliament, she was held in custody temporarily. It was later disclosed that her release was secured through the combined efforts of the German Foreign Ministry and German diplomatic representatives in Turkey.

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The basis for Akbulut’s detention stemmed from a 2019 investigation by the Kayseri Public Prosecutor’s Office, which alleged her involvement in terrorist propaganda due to several social media posts.

Akbulut, who has held parliamentary office since 2017, took to social media to comment on her experience, highlighting the lack of separation of powers in Turkey. Her message, “Rest assured, attempts to silence me through arrest warrants will prove futile,” resonated with her followers.

Notably, Akbulut, who was born in Kayseri, announced her plans to lead an official visit to Turkey in October as part of the Turkey-Germany Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group.

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