German comedian who insulted Erdogan says Merkel "butchered" him

A German comedian who triggered a diplomatic crisis by reading a poem on state television that insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blasted Chancellor Angela Merkel for authorizing a criminal investigation into his actions.

"The chancellor shouldn't budge when it comes to freedom of opinion," Jan Boehmermann told German newspaper Die Zeit, breaking several weeks of media silence. "Instead, she butchered me, served me up for tea to an unhinged despot."

Merkel decided Boehmermann should be subjected to a formal criminal investigation last month after his March 31 reading of the poem, which joked that Erdogan watches child pornography and performs sex acts with animals, prompted the Turkish head of state to file a defamation complaint.

The investigation was allowed to proceed under an obscure and rarely used section of the German criminal code that makes it illegal to insult a foreign head of state. The German government has since announced plans to repeal the law.

Boehmermann told Die Zeit that Merkel had made him into a German Ai Weiwei, referring to the Chinese dissident artist who was targeted by the authorities in his home country after repeatedly criticizing Beijing's human rights record.

Merkel had called Boehmermann's poem "purposefully offensive," but later retracted that statement.

The case unleashed a fierce debate about the limits of free speech in Germany and caused many to question the European Union's migration deal with Turkey, which critics say has left Merkel beholden to Erdogan in her bid to end the refugee crisis.

The full version of the Die Zeit interview will be released on Wednesday.

Last update: Tue, 03/05/2016 - 18:35

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