German TV comic defends satirical poem that insulted Erdogan

A German TV comic whose satirical poem insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan released a video message Wednesday in response to a decision by prosecutors not to pursue a criminal investigation against him.

In April, the German government approved criminal proceedings against Boehmermann for reciting a crude poem on public broadcaster ZDF in which he said Erdogan watched child pornography and performed sex acts with animals.

The investigation of Boehmermann was carried out under Germany's defamation law and a little-used statute against insulting foreign heads of state, prompting a heated debate about the limits of free speech in Germany.

"At the core this is about a joke; some say it was in bad taste, others say it was exactly right at that particular point in time," Boehmermann said in a video message released on social media.

"You can always think of a joke as superfluous or as a success, as freedom of opinion; that is the defining difference between a joke and the fundamental values of our society," he said.

Boehmermann went on to emphasize the importance of freedom of expression in Germany, and to criticize the human rights situation in Turkey since the July 15-16 military coup attempt.

"While you are watching this video, there are people in Turkey that have been detained without a fair trial, that are having to give up their passports, that aren't allowed to leave the country, that are losing their job ... because they expressed a different opinion than what is allowed," Boehmermann said.

Last update: Thu, 06/10/2016 - 08:37

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