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Jan 04 2019

Germany's journalist association warns journalists and bloggers of Turkish travel

The German Journalists' Association (DJV) warned journalists and bloggers that a holiday in Turkey could be a "bad trap" because it is easy to get into trouble by contributing to social media in the country, Deutsche Welle reported on Jan. 3.

"The most beautiful weeks of the year nobody should spend in police custody," said the DJV Chairman Frank Überall.

The reason for the warning was the arrest of German-Turkish Adnan Sütçü on his entry into Turkey, according to Deutsche Welle. Sütçü on Dec. 27 travelled to the country to attend his father's funeral. He was taken into custody as soon as he arrived the country, then released conditionally. The authorities imposed him a ban on leaving the country and accuse him of anti-state Facebook posts.

Before booking a trip to Turkey, journalists should check whether they have commented on social trends in current political developments, Überall said.

Germany's Foreign Office also warned against travelling to Turkey. Arrests of German nationals have repeatedly been in "connection with government-critical statements in the social media", German newspaper the Zeit said.

German authorities said the statements that are covered by the German law of freedom of expression could "give rise to criminal proceedings in Turkey." The sharing or "liking" of a foreign contribution is enough for it already.

According to data given by Germany's foreign ministry, at least five German citizens are in prison for political reasons. DJV also said legal action was taken against some 18,000 people last year for such reasons.

Last year, the German Foreign Ministry released another warning for German citizens travelling to Turkey to be careful about their social media posts. The ministry said the German nationals had been arrested or prosecuted in Turkey several times over the last two years for criticising Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Turkish police’s anti-cybercrime department has been investigating social media accounts since 2017, according to Turkish news site HaberTürk.

A total of 42,406 social media accounts were investigated and judicial action was taken against 18,376 social media users in Turkey during 2018, Turkish news site Bianet reported, citing a report by the country’s Interior Ministry.