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German government relieved

Peter Steudtner released on bail

The German government is relieved to hear that Peter Steudtner and other human rights activists have been released. "We share their joy, while our thoughts are with those still in prison," tweeted federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert. Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel spoke of an "encouraging signal".

Human rights activist Peter Steudtner is released from detention in Istanbul. Peter Steudtner following his release from a Turkish prison Photo: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Gurel

After more than 100 days in pre-trial detention in Turkey, the German national Peter Steudtner is free again. Other human rights activists were also released. An Istanbul court ordered his release late on Wednesday evening.

The German government has welcomed the news from Turkey. On Twitter, federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert wrote, "At last! Peter Steudtner and other human rights activists are free. We share their joy, while our thoughts are with those still in prison." Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel spoke of an "encouraging signal" although he added that is was a "first step".

Trial opened on Wednesday

Wednesday saw the start of the trial against Peter Steudtner in Turkey. At the start of the trial, Steffen Seibert declared that Germany was doing everything in its power to have the German national released.

The responsible German Consul, Georg Birgelen, was in court when the trial of Peter Steudtner began, reported Maria Adebahr, deputy spokesperson of the Federal Foreign Office on Wednesday at the government press conference.

After 100 days in pre-trial detention in Turkey, the trial of Peter Steudtner began on 25 October. He was arrested on 5 July. The Turkish judiciary accuses Steudtner and other speakers from the human rights organisation Amnesty International of supporting an armed terrorist organisation. Deniz Yücel, Mesale Tolu and other German nationals are currently also being held in Turkish prisons on similar charges.

Rule-of-law developments in Turkey cause for concern

Since the attempted coup in mid-2016, Germany and other EU countries have been concerned at developments in Turkey relating to the rule of law, said Maria Adebahr. She pointed to more than 150,000 people dismissed and 100,000 arrested to illustrate the scale of the problem.

The German government, she said, has used its channels to keep communication going with Turkey. Turkey has consistently maintained that its judiciary is independent. Against this backdrop, the German government hopes that the proceedings will be an encouraging signal that the judiciary respects the rule of law, also in the case of Peter Steudtner, underscored Maria Adebahr.

Chancellor meets Deniz Yücel’s wife

Federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Dilek Mayatürk Yücel, the wife of Deniz Yücel, on Tuesday 24 October. In Berlin Angela Merkel discussed with her the situation of her husband, in Turkish detention.

The Chancellor reaffirmed that the German government has not forgotten Deniz Yücel – or Mesale Tolu or Peter Steudtner. The German government is doing all it can to bring about their release, and the release of the other German nationals who are less well known. It is also clear, Steffen Seibert continued, that the German government is working equally hard for every person who has been wrongfully imprisoned.

On 29 August Chancellor Angela Merkel said
"I personally say to the three million people in Germany who have Turkish roots that we would like to have better relations with Turkey, but that this also has something to do with respect for rule-of-law principles. At the moment we do not see these principles respected in Turkey. That is why we are currently experiencing a very complicated phase of relations between Germany and Turkey. We must wait and see how things develop, but our demand is quite clear – that the people who have been imprisoned must be released. Deniz Yücel, Mr Steudtner, Ms Tolu – there are a whole series of cases."

Oct 26, 2017