Diplomats have been allowed access to a German national in prison in Turkey for the first time since her arrest last month. Mesale Tolu is accused of supporting terror groups - as are many other journalists in Turkey.
Representatives of the German Foreign Ministry confirmed that German national Mesale Tolu was "doing well considering the circumstances" after returning from a 90-minute visit. The German Foreign Ministry did not divulge any further details other than adding that the German Embassy would immediately apply to have another visit with the 33-year-old.
As a German national, Mesale Tolu has the right to have access to proper consular care and legal counsel by the German Embassy. Turkish authorities, however, failed to inform Germany about her arrest for almost a week in early May, then took another three weeks to allow German officials to meet her.
Germany's ambassador to Ankara, Martin Erdmann, said Turkey had "clearly trespassed against the Vienna Convention regarding consular relations, which is globally valid." According to the convention, the respective embassy of a foreign national in detention has to be informed immediately. Erdmann added that the consular visit was "long overdue," highlighting the strained relations between the two nations.
Tolu's experience is reminiscent of another recent case, where German officials were given access to a second German-Turkish journalist only after months of protest and persistence. Deniz Yucel made headline news in Germany and beyond for his unexpected arrest. The senior journalist, who writes for Die Welt newspaper, has been in custody on similar charges since February.
Tolu had been working mainly as a translator and occasional journalist for various organizations, including the radically-leftist ETHA news agency as well as the Netherlands-based Firat News Agency (ANF). The Turkish government has linked the group to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Ankara and many other states regard as a terror organization. Among the evidence cited so far against her, Turkish authorities mentioned seeing Tolu attending the funerals of two left-wing extremists belonging to the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) killed by the police in 2015.
Her husband, journalist Suat Corlu, is also under arrest, with both facing allegations of supporting terrorist groups - a charge that has been brought against dozens of journalists imprisoned in Turkey. Tolu and her husband had only been living and working in Turkey for two years.
The couple's 2-year-old son was reportedly in the mother's care at the prison facility in Istanbul, according to the AFP news agency. Earlier reports had stated that he was placed in the care of relatives.
Several German or German-Turkish dual nationals have been placed under arrest since the July 15, 2016, botched coup in Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has since been using state of emergency measures to clamp down on various dissident voices, hitting the Kurdish minority as well as followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen the hardest. Thousands of people have arrested, tens of thousands have been dimissed from government jobs.
ss/sms (AFP, Reuters)