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Germany warns of “possible arrests” during traveling to Turkey

The German government has tightened its travel advice for Turkey, warning of possible arrests, after officials in Ankara denied accreditation to foreign journalists – some from Germany – without offering a reason.

It was only last week, when the Turkish Interior Minister, Suleiman Soylu, warned that foreign tourists, journalists, academics and intellectuals will be arrested and thrown to jail, if are suspected to criticize the government on social media.

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Three long-standing German correspondents in Turkey had not been issued a new annual accreditation by the competent authorities in Ankara. These are journalist Thomas Seibert, correspondent for daily Tagesspiegel, Jörg Brase correspondent for state broadcaster ZDF and Halil Gülbeyaz, correspondent for state radio NDR.

The press cards of foreign media representatives expire every year in December and must be re-applied. The press card is usually a prerequisite for issuing a residence permit..

According to information from AFP news agency, more than two months after the expiry of the old press card, around 80 foreign journalists in Turkey are awaiting the new accreditation.

“It cannot be ruled out that the Turkish government will take further measures against representatives of the German media and civil society institutions,” the German Foreign Ministry warned in an updated travel advisory on Sunday.

The Ministry notes that in the past two years, more German citizens have been “arbitrarily” arrested in Turkey. Statements that the German government understands to be covered by freedom of expression rules can lead to restrictions and criminal proceedings in Turkey, according to the advice.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called it “unacceptable” and “incompatible with our understanding of freedom of the press,” when correspondents cannot freely pursue their work in Turkey, Tagesspiegel reported Sunday, citing an interview.

Germany considers Ankara’s action that the three German journalists are effectively forced out of the country as an affront. Berlin wants to discuss the matter with Turkish representatives, the daily reported, citing government sources.

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