Merkel Voices Concern At Reporter’s Detention In Turkey

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BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that her government is concerned about the detention of a German television reporter at Istanbul airport, adding that diplomats are trying to resolve the situation.

Volker Schwenck, a correspondent for German public broadcaster SWR, was prevented from entering Turkey after arriving from Cairo and held in the deportation room of Istanbul Ataturk Airport, an SWR spokesman said.

Asked about the incident during a news conference in Berlin, Merkel said German officials “immediately looked into the matter.”

“The Foreign Ministry in particular is in constant contact with all necessary authorities and is of course trying to restore the journalist’s ability to work. As such we are pursuing this and regard it with some concern.”

It is the latest incident involving journalists to sour German-Turkish relations. Last week, Merkel’s government granted a Turkish request to allow the possible prosecution of a German TV comic for writing an intentionally offensive poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Critics of the decision accused Merkel of giving in to Turkish pressure because of Ankara’s key role in halting the flow of migrants to Europe.

The poem by comedian Jan Boehmermann was a response to Turkish anger over a satirical program on one of SWR’s sister channels that had also poked fun at Erdogan.

Last month, German weekly Der Spiegel pulled its correspondent from Istanbul, saying Turkey had refused to renew his press permit.

A Turkish official said Schwenck was banned from entering Turkey because of a previous incident.

“He knew he would not be allowed in, yet he still came,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the issue publicly. He said he didn’t have details of the previous incident.

A spokesman for SWR denied the official’s version.

“There had never previously been problems. It’s the first time he’s faced such a situation,” Wolfgang Utz told The Associated Press. “He wasn’t aware of any entry ban.”

Schwenck, who had planned to travel to the Syrian border to interview refugees, posted a picture on Twitter of a document titled “Inadmissible Passenger Notification Report.”

He tweeted : “Final stop Istanbul. Entry to Turkey denied. There’s a note with my name. I’m a journalist. A problem?”