Erdoğan may cancel press event with Merkel over journalist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may cancel a new conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel because the German government is allowing a dissident journalist to attend the event, Deutsche Welle reported.

The federal press bureau has accredited Can Dundar, the former editor-in-chief of the leftist Cumhuriyet newspaper, for the event in Berlin and won’t rescind its decision despite objections from Erdoğan’s office, Deutsche Welle said. Dundar, who is one of Turkey’s best-known journalists, currently lives in Germany’s capital and faces an arrest warrant in absentia in Turkey.

Erdoğan is meeting with Merkel on Friday at a critical juncture for Turkey. The country is suffering from its worst economic downturn since the global financial crisis a decade ago and Erdoğan is seeking financial and political support from Merkel to limit its effects. Erdogan is also seeking to restart talks on Turkey’s membership of the European Union and to negotiate an updated customs union with the bloc. Both are on hold because of the country’s human rights record.

Dundar was found guilty of treason by an Istanbul court on May 6, 2016 for leaking secret government information about clandestine arms shipments to Syria. Just minutes before his trial, Dundar was almost killed in front of the court house by an assailant who fired two shots with a pistol. He was sentenced to five years and 10 months behind bars but fled to Germany in June 2016 while his case was on appeal.

Dundar was preparing to ask Erdoğan why he brands some 175 journalists currently incarcerated in Turkish jails as terrorists rather than journalists, Deutsche Welle reported.