Germany warns its citizens travelling Turkey over social media posts

The German Foreign Ministry warned German citizens travelling to Turkey to be careful about their social media posts, Euronews reported on Wednesday.

The ministry said in its latest travel update that German nationals had been arrested or prosecuted in Turkey several times over the last two years for criticising Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“Such statements, which according to the German understanding of law are covered by the freedom of expression, may give rise to criminal proceedings in Turkey,” the ministry said. 

The ministry also warned that sharing or liking reports on Turkey published in foreign media might be sufficient for prosecution in Turkey and even non-public comments may be forwarded to Turkish authorities by anonymous denunciations. 

The ministry also said that people charged in Turkey with crimes such as insulting the president or terrorism propaganda might face multiple-year sentences. 

Contrary to the obligation under international law, Turkey, in some cases, has granted access to German diplomatic missions to meet German nationals imprisoned in the country only several months after their detention, the ministry said. 

German nationals with close private and personal ties to Turkey as well as persons who, in addition to German, also have Turkish nationality can particularly be affected, the ministry said. 

The Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on political opponents following a failed coup attempt in 2016, which has also led to detentions and prosecutions of foreign nationals.

Five German nationals are believed to be in Turkish custody for political reasons, according to German officials, Deutsche Welle reported on Oct. 2.

Turkish authorities arrested another German citizen for defaming Erdoğan online early October. 

Hüseyin M., who is believed to hold dual citizenship, was later released but was put back in jail as he was barred from leaving Turkey and had no permanent address in the country.