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German author detained on Turkish arrest warrant

August 19, 2017

Cologne-based author Dogan Akhanli has been detained in Spain after Turkey issued an Interpol arrest warrant. The charges remain unclear. German officials have decried the move as politically motivated.

Writer Dogan Akhanli
Image: picture alliance/dpa/H. Galuschka

The 60-year-old German writer of Turkish origin was arrested around 8:30 a.m. local time at his hotel in the southern Spanish city of Granada on Saturday, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported. Spanish police asked for Dogan Akhanli's ID card to confirm his identity before detaining him.

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Turkey issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Akhanli with a so-called "Red Notice." His lawyer, Ilias Uyar, told Der Spiegel that he hasn't been granted access to his client and that the charges are unclear.

Read more: Ankara mayor slams German Green party leader for 'treachery'

Akhanli's arrest was part of a "targeted hunt against critics of the Turkish government living abroad in Europe," Uyar told the magazine.

Any country can issue an Interpol "Red Notice," but Spain would only extradite Akhanli if Turkey could convince Spanish courts that there was a real case against the author.

The German embassy in Madrid urged the Spanish government not to extradite Akhanli, according to the German Foreign Office. The request was made by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is in Barcelona to pay his respects to the victims of this week's twin terror attacks.

Erdogan's attempt 'to extend his power'

News of his arrest sparked outrage in Germany, with parliamentarians calling for his release.

"I asked the Foreign Office to take immediate action with the Spanish authorities in order to prevent an extradition to Turkey," Green party parliamentarian Volker Beck said in Berlin.

On Twitter, Beck asked if the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) or the Interior Ministry (BMI) knew about the Interpol Red Notice for Akhanli, wondering how long the notice has been in order.

He also said the arrest warrant is a clear attempt by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "to extend his power beyond the borders of his country to intimidate his critics and to pursue them all over the world."

Left Party co-chairwoman Katja Kipping urged for the writer to be released in a post on Twitter, saying: "Unbelievable! I call for the immediate release of Dogan Akhanli! How much further do we want to let Erdogan go in Europe?"

Akhanli has been living in Germany since fleeing Turkey in 1991 and has German citizenship. He has written extensively on Turkey's human rights record.

Read more: Erdogan tells German Turks not to vote for Angela Merkel

He was previously arrested in Turkey for opposition activities including running a leftist newspaper. He was also detained in August 2010 when he traveled to Istanbul on manslaughter and robbery charges, but was set free in December that year.

The relationship between Ankara and Berlin has become increasingly strained following last year's failed coup in Turkey as authorities have fired or suspended some 150,000 people and detained over 50,000, including other German nationals.

rs/rc (AFP, dpa, KNA, Reuters)