Germany calls arrest of Turkish lawyer working for its embassy a scandal

(Releads and updates with the statements of German officials.)

The detention of a Turkish lawyer who had been working with the German embassy in Ankara is a foreign policy scandal, Deutsche Welle quoted the head of Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) as saying to Die Welt newspaper on Friday.

Turkish authorities detained two lawyers for providing information on Turkish nationals to the German, Norwegian, Swedish and Dutch embassies, Sabah newspaper reported on Friday. 

The move sparked outrage in Germany, with officials across the political spectrum urging for the lawyer's release, DW said.

The lawyers are accused of acting against Turkey’s national interest by preparing reports for the embassies on individuals living outside Turkey who are wanted inside the country to face charges of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) armed group and the Gülen movement, a secretive Islamist sect formerly allied to the ruling party that the government blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

Yılmaz Sunar, a lawyer working for the German Embassy in Ankara was held in custody, while another lawyer was released but banned from leaving the country during the investigation by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Sabah said. 

The Turkish daily did not mention when the lawyers were taken into custody, but according to DW they were detained in September. 

The newspaper said wanted Turkish nationals had used reports prepared by lawyers to help their asylum applications in Europe. The reports included detailed information on criminal investigations into those individuals in Turkey, Sabah said. 

BAMF president Hans-Eckhard Sommer told Die Welt that employing local lawyers to investigate asylum claims was a standard practice. 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the arrest was "in no way understandable" and that he would raise the issue with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu during the G20 foreign ministers' summit in Japan.

"We believe that there needs to be a swift resolution to this and I will of course tell that to my colleague here," Maas said.

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