Erdogan Seeking Injunction Against German Media Executive

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after the closing session of the 13th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul's Congress Center (ICC) on April 15, 2016.
OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

BERLIN (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) is seeking a preliminary injunction against German publisher Axel Springer’s chief executive Mathias Doepfner, German media cited Erdogan’s lawyer as saying on Monday.

German media cited Ralf Hoecker, a lawyer for Erdogan, as saying the Turkish leader wanted the injunction due to Doepfner’s support for a poem read out by comedian Jan Boehmermann on German national television in March. In the poem Boehmermann suggested Erdogan hits girls, watches child pornography and engages in bestiality.

In an open letter published in German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in April, Doepfner expressed solidarity with Boehmermann, saying he had laughed out loud over the poem and “wholeheartedly” supported what the comedian had said.

Neither Hoecker’s law firm nor Erdogan’s office was immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

A spokeswoman for Springer said: “We do not yet have any information about this at all. It’s important to note that Mr Doepfner wanted to defend the freedom of art and satire in his open letter – that was the reason for his letter.”

Hoecker’s law firm published a statement on its website on Monday saying it had succeeded in getting a preliminary injunction against German director and producer Uwe Boll who, in a video posted online, defended Boehmermann’s poem and said Erdogan should be shot.

“It’s like gang rape: When one starts, everyone starts coming out of the woodwork and taking part,” Ralf Hoecker said in that statement.

“Mr Erdogan is a human being and human dignity is inviolable,” he said, adding that this was placed above the freedom of press, art and opinion in the German constitution.

The statement from Hoecker’s firm did not mention Doepfner or Springer.

Erdogan is known for his sensitivity to criticism and Turkish prosecutors have opened over 1,800 cases against people for insulting him since he became president in 2014.

Chancellor Angela Merkel drew heavy criticism for allowing German prosecutors to pursue a case against Boehmermann.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Additional reporting by Harro Ten Wolde in Frankfurt and Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul; Editing by James Dalgleish)


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