Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey has refused to renew the accreditation of two long-serving German journalists working in the country, triggering protests from Berlin, which said the decision was “incomprehensible”.

Jorg Brase, the Istanbul bureau chief for ZDF public television, and Thomas Seibert, who writes for the newspaper Tagesspiegel, have had their applications for press cards rejected by the Turkish government on Friday.

Senior German foreign ministry official Andreas Michaelis called Turkey’s ambassador to Germany to protest the decision and asked Ankara to reconsider, the ministry said.

“The decision is incomprehensible,” said ministry spokesperson Maria Adebahr.

Relations between Berlin and Ankara soured after Turkish authorities arrested and sacked tens of thousands of people in mass purges over the 2016 attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Some of those arrested were also German nationals.

The arrests are part of different probes into followers of Muslim preacher and businessman Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States.

Turkey accuses Gulen of ordering the coup attempt of July 15, 2016. Gulen denies any involvement in the plot.

Two journalists freed

A gradual rapprochement between Germany and Turkey began in 2018 after German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel was freed following his arrest the year before.

Another journalist, Mesale Tolu, was allowed to return to Germany in August 2018.

Both still face terror-related charges in Turkey.

Despite criticism from Western allies and human rights defenders over the scale of the crackdown following the coup attempt, the police operations and probes continue with rigour.

Turkish officials insist that the raids are necessary to remove the “virus” caused by the Gulen movement’s infiltration of Turkish state bodies.

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