A German lawmaker said the arrest of a Turkish lawyer working for the German Embassy in Ankara is a “provocation” by Turkey, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on Thursday.
“To arrest someone that the German Embassy sees as trustworthy is the next stage of the provocation that has been ignited by Ankara. Here, apart from diplomatic practices, Germany’s executive organ itself is being violated,” said Omid Nouripour, the German Green Party’s spokesperson and lawmaker.
The arrest of the lawyer, Yilmaz S., had been first revealed on September 18 by some Turkish media outlets. A German diplomatic source confirmed the incident on Wednesday.
The official from the German Foreign Ministry told Agence France-Presse that the lawyer had provided the Embassy with “internationally customary and indisputably acceptable support” until his detention.
“His detention is incomprehensible to us,” the unnamed German official said.
Martin Erdmann, German Ambassador to Turkey, also confirmed the incident in a written statement.
“In whole Europe, the cooperation between lawyers and diplomatic missions is a usual practice that makes it possible for foreign missions to undertake their works in line with the provisions of the Vienna Convention,” the ambassador said.
Nouripour called on the German government to react to the detention “explicitly.”
“The government should now show its reaction explicitly and put a ‘stop sign’ in front of [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” said the MP.
There was no immediate word from the Turkish Foreign Ministry on the issue.
Erinc Sagkan, the chairman of the Ankara Bar Association, told Voice of America (VOA) Turkish that there has been nothing yet that the bar could verify.
The arrested lawyer was dealing with the cases of Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Germany on behalf of the German Embassy, according to a piece of earlier news by German magazine Der Spiegel.
The magazine reported that the lawyer had been accused by the Turkish authorities of espionage and cannot receive Germany’s consular assistance as he is a Turkish citizen.
However, the diplomatic source said Germany was “intensively engaging to clear up the allegations and free him from custody.”
The Turkish intelligence service (MIT) may have captured some sensitive data and files of up to 50 asylum-seekers whose likelihood of facing imprisonment on their return to Turkey had been sought by the lawyer, the source added. Under the embassy work, the lawyer was trying to get information from Turkish prosecutors and police.
More than 250 other files, including pending asylum claims of Kurdish activists and Gulen movement members, may now be in the hands of Turkish authorities who seized them in a police search of the lawyer’s offices, according to German media reports.
In Germany, the number of asylum seekers from Turkey has risen sharply since a failed coup in July 2016.
Erdogan blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers for the coup attempt and has repeatedly called on Germany to extradite Gulen movement supporters by designating them as “terrorists.”
Between January and October, Germany saw some 9,500 protection applications from Turkey, 8 percent higher than the number for the same period last year. Turks are ranked third, after Syrians and Iraqis, in seeking asylum in Germany, according to the official figures.
It is not the first time that a German or someone working for a German organization has been detained. Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish journalist and former Turkey correspondent for the German daily Die Welt, was held from February 2017 until February 2018 in Turkey. He was released pending trial in Turkey on charges that include “making propaganda of a terrorist organization” and “public incitement to hatred or hostility.”
Erdogan had previously called Yucel “German agent”, “terrorist” and “member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)” which is an armed group that has been fighting for self-rule in the predominantly Kurdish region southeast of Turkey for more than three decades.