Turkish “hostage-taking” damaging relations with the West – analyst

Turkish arrests of foreign nationals on political grounds has become a form of “hostage-taking” and has begun to damage relations with the West, Nate Schenkkan, a project director at Washington, DC-based think-tank Freedom House, wrote.

“Turkish hostage-taking has become one of the most pressing problems in relations between Ankara and its Western allies. It is something that everyone knows is happening, but political leaders and diplomats are reluctant to call it by its name,” Schenkkan said.

“No citizen of an allied country should have to wonder if Turkey will make their freedom a bargaining chip – and there is currently legislation before Congress that would punish Turkey for this behaviour.”

Other sanctions being discussed in the United States were sanctions targeting individuals linked to the Turkish government, along the line of sanctions levelled against the Putin regime.

“There is a lot of gnashing of teeth right now about sanctions against Turkey, and whether they will do more harm than good,” Schenkkan said.

“Too much of this discussion presumes that it is the United States and its allies that are responsible for the deterioration, when it is actually Turkey that is pushing its alliances to the breaking point.”

The most recent case came with the arrest of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, Schenkkan said, who was released on bail after a year of imprisonment without charge.

“Once on safe ground in Germany, he posted a video of himself holding a copy of the court order he was given when he left jail. The court, he said, had ordered that his detention be prolonged, not terminated,” he said.

“Like his detention, Yucel’s release had all the marks of a political decision by Turkey’s government. Whatever the case, the discussion takes for granted the fact that Germany was forced to engage in de facto hostage negotiations with a NATO ally.”