Two German citizens have been detained in Turkey for what Berlin believes are “political” reasons, the German government said, the latest in a string of arrests of European citizens that have put relations with Ankara under unprecedented strain.
Germany was not officially informed of the detentions, which took place at Antalya airport on Thursday, leaving Berlin’s consulate in the coastal city of Izmir to learn of their arrest from “non-state sources”, a spokeswoman said.
Many European citizens have been detained in Turkey over the past year, accused of involvement in last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom many accuse of purging opposition under the cover of a crackdown.
“We’re trying to establish what they are charged with,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr at a news conference on Friday. “We must assume that it’s a political charge, suspicion of terrorism, as with the others.”
Diplomats had not been able to contact them, she added, with Friday’s public holiday celebrating the Muslim festival of Eid a possible reason for delays in contacting officials.
Twelve German citizens are currently in Turkish detention on political charges. Of them, four hold dual citizenship. Among them is German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, whose detention hit the 200-day mark on Friday.
“The situation of Yucel and other Germans in Turkey concerns us greatly,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. “We expect Turkey to release Germans who have been detained for unclear reasons.