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Austrian journalist arrested in Turkey

Rebecca Staudenmaier
September 11, 2018

Max Zirngast, an Austrian journalist, was detained by "anti-terror" authorities in Ankara according to one of the magazines he worked for. The report said he'd likely been detained for "political publications."

A protester takes part in a demonstration in Istanbul, Turkey
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Suna

Austrian journalist Max Zirngast was detained by security forces in Turkey on Tuesday morning, according to the magazine that he worked for.

Re:volt magazine reported on Twitter that Zirngast and "several others" were arrested in Ankara around 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning by "anti-terror" authorities.

They posted a picture of Zirngast as well as a photo of security forces allegedly removing him from what appears to be an apartment building.

The magazine initially said that he had been detained on "terror" charges, but later said that he was likely being held due to "political publications."

'No justification'

According to re:volt, Zirngast has lived in Turkey for several years, where he works and is studying.

Ismail Küpeli, a political scientist and journalist, wrote on Twitter that Zirngast's arrest was likely tied to his work, and not to any alleged "terrorist" activities.

"I know Max Zirngast to be a clever person and an exceptional author. We took part in several panel discussions together, where he showed his political stance clearly. This has nothing to do with 'terrorism,'" he wrote on Twitter.

"Divergent political opinions are no justification for arrests and intimidation, which are happening more and more in Turkey," Reporters without Borders in Austria said in a statement.

Post-coup arrests

The Austrian Foreign Ministry said an Austrian had been arrested by Turkish authorities on Tuesday, but did not offer any details on whether it was Zirngast.

Dozens of journalists were arrested in Turkey in the aftermath of a failed military coup attempt in July 2016. Many of those who were arrested were accused of spreading "terrorism propaganda."

Relations with Germany and Turkey have been strained over similar arrests that saw journalists with dual German-Turkish citizenship detained on similar charges. Die Welt journalist Deniz Yücel was given a conditional release and returned to Germany in February. In late August, journalist and translator Mesale Tolu was also allowed to return to Germany as well after a Turkish court lifed a travel ban against her.