Turkey summons German envoy in row over reporters
Ankara on Wednesday summoned the German ambassador after claiming that two of its reporters were detained in Frankfurt, injecting a diplomatic row to the run-up to Turkey's historic runoff election.
A local German prosecutor denied to AFP that the journalists were under arrest but confirmed they had been charged with the "dangerous dissemination of personal data".
Officers searched the private homes of two journalists aged 46 and 51 in a Frankfurt suburb on Wednesday morning, according to the regional police force and the prosecutor in the nearby city of Darmstadt.
"During the operation, the investigators seized electronic storage media and other evidence. After the criminal investigation was completed, the two men were released," they said.
Turkey's foreign ministry denounced the "harassment and intimidation" of the reporters, who work for the pro-government Daily Sabah's Frankfurt bureau.
It said the alleged arrests were "a deliberate act", coming days after the first round of Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections.
"Germany's action against the free press, which aims to teach the whole world about the freedom of press and expression, reveals its double-standard approach," the ministry said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powerful media director Fahrettin Altun condemned the reported raids and the confiscation of the reporters' equipment.
"We find Germany's stance on silencing journalists unacceptable and we are concerned about the repression of press freedom in this country," he wrote on Twitter.
The diplomatic row erupted just days after a landmark election Sunday in which Erdogan fell just short of securing a first-round victory.
He enters a 28 May run-off vote as the favourite against secular opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who has promised to broaden Turkey's media freedoms.
Sabah belongs to the Turkuvaz Media Group, which has close ties to Erdogan's family. Its Frankfurt bureau is the headquarters for its European operations.
Around 90 percent of Turkish media organisations are controlled by or aligned with the government after sweeping purges and a crackdown on dissent that followed a failed but bloody 2016 coup attempt.
Germany hosts a large Turkish diaspora, accounting for nearly half of the more than three million Turks living abroad who voted in this month's election.
Around one in two Turkish voters in Germany went to the ballot during Turkey's last elections in 2018, and they have tended to back conservative candidates.
Support for conservative leader Erdogan and his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2018 was stronger in Europe's biggest economy than in Turkey itself.