Germany may trade tank upgrade for jailed journalist - newspaper

Turkey is looking to benefit from its detention of German journalist Deniz Yücel by trading his release for a tank export license, German newspaper Der Spiegel said.

Yücel, the Turkey correspondent for German newspaper Die Welt, was arrested on Feb. 14, 2017 over accusations of espionage and has been detained ever since.

“Ankara … has repeatedly noted during the negotiations that it expects to receive something in return for releasing journalist Yücel,” the paper said.

“During former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's secret visit to Turkey shortly after the German elections last fall, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan proposed that Germany extradite several Turkish generals suspected of having participated in the failed coup attempt in July 2016. Essentially, it amounted to an indirect admission from Erdoğan that he viewed imprisoned German citizens as political hostages.”

What Turkey wanted now was an export license to allow it to purchase the newest models of German tanks, something German authorities do not appear opposed to for as long as they can stem the public outcry.

“A short time later, the German foreign minister asked his staff to put the issue on the agenda of the next senior Foreign Ministry staff meeting along with instructions to reconsider the request from Ankara in a favourable light,” the paper said.

“Officially, the German government would like the modernisation of Turkey's Leopard 2 fleet to look like a ‘humanitarian obligation’ to a NATO ally that is directly engaged in the fight against Islamic State. But the Turkish military in Syria hasn't been fighting IS for some time now – it is instead concentrating its efforts there primarily on the Syrian-Kurdish militia YPG.”