German media have reported that Mesale Tolu has been in detention under allegations of terrorism since April 30. Her work had appeared in pro-Kurdish media, including an outlet closed as part of government crackdowns.
German journalist Mesale Tolu was reportedly arrested during an overnight raid at her Istanbul apartment in the early hours of May 1. The socialist daily publication "Neues Deutschland" first reported the arrest in Germany, which later was corroborated by German state broadcaster ARD and Turkish newspaper "Diken".
Tolu was reportedly placed under remand facing allegations of spreading "propaganda for a terrorist organization" as well as "membership in a terrorist group." However, many of the more than 150 journalist arrested in Turkey under ongoing state of emergency measures introduced in the wake of the failed coup of July 15, 2016, are facing similar accusations. German daily newspaper TAZ meanwhile said that, according to Turkish sources, 33-year-old Tolu's arrest had been part of a police raid aimed at clamping down on socialist movements in particular.
Husband also behind bars
Prior to her arrest, Mesale Tolu's work had mainly been published by organizations seen as having socialist, pro-Kurdish leanings, such the private ETHA news agency and the Netherlands-based Firat News Agency (ANF), which the Turkish government links to the outlawed terror group PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). She also worked for "Özgür Radyo" (Free Radio), which was closed as part of the government purge.
Born and raised in southern Germany, Tolu became a German citizen ten years ago, for which she had to give up her Turkish citizenship. She had a short history in Turkey, having been living with her two-year-old son and her husband, journalist Suat Corlu, in Istanbul only since 2014.
Corlu, a Turkish national, is also in detention facing similar allegations. Their son is now being cared for by relatives.
Funeral as evidence
As a German national, Tolu will be provided legal counsel by the German embassy. Germany's foreign ministry, however, did not comment yet on whether it had succeeded in reaching out to the incarcerated journalist so far.
Mesale Tolu's lawyers meanwhile told "Neues Deutschland" that there is no further information on her case, as documents pertaining to her prosecution were reportedly being treated as classified. TAZ reports that one of her lawyers, Gülhan Kaya, said that one of the pieces of evidence to be used against Tolu was her attendance of a funeral of two leftwing extremists belonging to the forbidden Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), who had been killed by the police in 2015.
In another case of a German journalist under arrest facing terror allegations in Turkey it took Turkish authorities weeks to allow German embassy representatives in to have a meeting. The widely publicized case of Deniz Yucel, however, differs from that of Mesale Tolu in that Yucel is a dual national of Germany and Turkey whereas Tolu no longer holds Turkish nationality.
Omer Celik, Turkey's minister for European affairs, meanwhile said that "Turkey is a safe country for foreign journalists" who do not engage in terrorist activities.