Germany confirms meeting with embassy lawyer under arrest in Turkey

The German Foreign Ministry has confirmed that German officials have met with the imprisoned Turkish attorney working with the German Embassy in Ankara, whose arrest has caused tensions between Berlin and Ankara.

Turkish authorities granted a one-time visit to German officials upon their repeated requests to meet with Yılmaz S., who has been behind bars since September, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Saturday.

Yılmaz S. is accused by Turkish authorities of acting against Turkey’s national interest by preparing reports for the embassy on individuals living outside Turkey, who Ankara accuses of being linked to terrorist organisations. 

The Turkish attorney the embassy had contracted to help process asylum requests from Turkish citizens, was in possession of 47 case files pertaining to 83 individuals at the time of his arrest.

German authorities have said it is common practice for European embassies to contract local attorneys to process asylum claims calling for the immediate release of the lawyer. 

The lawyer’s arrest has prompted German officials to warn asylum-seekers they could be in danger.

The asylum applications from Turkey to Germany have spiked following a coup attempt in 2016 and the subsequent crackdown by the Turkish government over opposition under the two-year emergency rule that followed. 

Some 9,138 Turks applied for asylum in the first 10 months of 2018, up from 6,852 in the same period of 2017, an increase of 33 percent, according to data released last week by Germany's Interior Ministry.  

There is a much larger number of files in possession of Turkish authorities than reported by Germany officials, Deutsche Welle Turkish said, underlining that information regarding a total of 265 Turkish citizens residing in North Rhine-Westphalia alone has reached Turkish authorities within a month and half of Yilmaz S.’s arrest.

The numbers that have emerged as a result of the report are worrisome, The Greens MP Berivan Aymaz told the broadcaster, demanding more details regarding the content of information obtained by Turkey.