Germany allows comedian Jan Boehmermann to face prosecution over Erdogan satire
Germany allows comedian Jan Boehmermann to face prosecution over Erdogan satire

Germany allows comedian Jan Boehmermann to face prosecution over Erdogan satire

The comedian Jan Boehmermann is accused of insulting Recep Erdogan on German television.

The German government has granted a Turkish request to allow the possible prosecution of a TV comedian who wrote a crude poem about Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Boehmermann is accused of violating section 103 of the German criminal code, which prohibits insulting foreign leaders.

The Turkish government in Ankara had formally requested that Boehmermann be prosecuted on Monday.

Merkel also said on Friday that she would be putting forward a proposal to scrap the law.

Many in Germany are concerned that the Chancellor is overlooking Germany’s commitment to free speech. Merkel was one of the chief architects of a deal between the EU and Turkey signed earlier this year aimed at limiting the flow of refugees into Europe, and critics say that she and other European politicians have turned a blind eye to its government’s more authoritarian tendencies in the interests of making the deal work.

Merkel herself was once a critic of Turkey, which has for some time been working toward joining the EU. She told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in 2010 that “the Turks are far from implementing necessary rights.”

Mathias Döpfner, head of the German publishing group Axel Springer, called for solidarity with Boehmermann in an open letter published in the Die Welt newspaper earlier this month.

In March, Ankara reportedly pressured Berlin into removing a satirical clip aired by public broadcaster NDR, which criticized the president for his crackdown on freedom of speech, as well as the alleged shuffling of electorate votes and cracking down on women.

Earlier that month, a correspondent for Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine was forced to leave Turkey after his press credentials weren’t removed. The publication’s editor-in-chief accused Ankara of violating press freedom.

Also last month, employees of Turkey’s Zaman newspaper said they “feel like captives” following the government’s takeover of the daily. Since the paper’s seizure, it has has turned into a government mouthpiece, with the first edition under the new ownership immediately featuring a picture of Erdogan.

Meanwhile, two journalists from Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper are being charged with espionage after publishing a report in 2014 which purported to show Turkey’s state intelligence agency helping to transfer weapons into Syria by truck.

The two spent 92 days in jail, almost half of it in solitary confinement, before the Constitutional Court ruled in February that their pre-trial detention was a violation of their rights.


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