BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s Die Welt and Welt am Sonntag newspapers have filed a formal complaint at the European Court of Human Rights about the Turkish government’s arrest of its correspondent Deniz Yucel, saying it made direct reporting from Turkey impossible, Die Welt reported on Saturday.
Turkish authorities arrested the German-Turkish journalist in February on charges of propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting public violence, amid a crackdown on alleged supporters of a failed military coup in Turkey a year ago.
Yucel filed a separate complaint in April with the European court that is supported by the German government. The court has set a deadline of Oct. 23 for Ankara to respond.
Berlin has repeatedly called for Yucel’s release and other Germans being held in Turkey and the detentions have contributed to a deterioration in relations between the two NATO allies.
“We are using all legal means to defend the freedom of Deniz Yucel and our publishing house to report,” said Stephanie Caspar, managing director of WeltN24 GmbH, which publishes the newspapers.
“It cannot be accepted without objection that a journalist is thrown into prison simply for doing his job,” she added.
The publisher confirmed it had filed the complaint but declined to provide any additional comment. It had also filed a complaint with the Turkish constitutional court in July.
The publisher took the step because the “groundless incarceration” of the Welt correspondent made direct reporting from Turkey impossible, Die Welt said.
During Turkey’s post-coup crackdown, some 150 media outlets have been shut and about 160 journalists jailed, the Turkish Journalists’ Association says.
In total, authorities have jailed more than 50,000 people pending trial and suspended or dismissed some 150,000 state workers including teachers, judges and soldiers since the coup, drawing criticism from Turkey’s NATO allies and rights groups.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s government says the crackdown is necessary to tackle security threats facing Turkey. More than 240 people were killed in the coup attempt in July 2016.
Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu told the German weekly magazine Focus that it was not safe for Germans to travel to Turkey.
“There are no security guarantees for anyone in Turkey,” Kilicdaroglu, head of the secularist Republican People’s Party, (CHP) told the magazine.
Kilicdaroglu also criticized Turkey’s arrest of journalists.
“I consider it completely inappropriate to designate German journalists or other citizens who come to Turkey for professional reasons as spies,” he said.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Angus MacSwan