Merkel.jpg
Photograph: EPA/MICHAEL KAPPELER

Chancellor Angela Merkel has given tentative backing to a German comedian whose satirical video angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying freedom of speech is important regardless of Germany's political dealings with Ankara.

Erdogan filed a defamation complaint against Jan Boehmermann, who - in a controversial video shown on German television - accused the Turkish head of state of watching child porn and performing sex acts with animals.

A police spokesman in Cologne said that following a risk assessment of the situation, Boehmermann was placed under protection with a patrol car sitting in front of his house.

Erdogan's complaint would be considered part of the same investigation already launched this month to determine whether Boehmermann's video violates a law criminalizing insults against foreign heads of state, The Mainz prosecutor's office said.

Although the German government has distanced itself from the video, Merkel said that fundamental values including freedom of speech and artistic expression "will be upheld irrespective of all the political problems that we discuss with one another."

She was referring to efforts by the European Union to cooperate with Turkey on managing the refugee crisis, which critics say have given Erdogan undue leverage in his dealings with the bloc.

Merkel said Tuesday that her government would carefully consider Turkey's request and reach a conclusion "within days."

A YouGov poll released on Tuesday showed the majority of Germans rallying around Boehmermann, with 54 per cent saying the criminal investigation into his actions is "not at all appropriate."

Only 6 per cent of respondents are in favour of the probe, while a fifth deem it "somewhat appropriate," the poll showed. Another 20 per cent of respondents say the investigation is "somewhat inappropriate."

Germany's criminal code provides for up to three years in prison or a fine for insulting a foreign head of state, and up to one year in prison or a fine for defamation.

Stefan Engels, a Hamburg-based media law expert, said Tuesday the Boehmermann case had the potential to reach Germany's highest court.

"At the end of the day, [the Constitutional Court in] Karlsruhe may have to redefine some of the legal boundaries" that are being tested by this case, Engels told dpa.

This Thursday's edition of Boehmermann's late night show Neo Magazin Royale has been cancelled as a result of the furore, his production company announced Tuesday.

Latest news

Thousands of Romanians revive anti-government protests

Thousands of Romanians turned out on Sunday to renew their demands for the government to step down amid accusations it is trying to protect corrupt politicians.

Francis, first pope to visit Anglicans in Rome, weighs S Sudan trip

Pope Francis became the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit the Anglican community in Rome on Sunday, where he said he was considering a trip to famine-struck South Sudan.

Ibrahimovic lifts Man United past Southampton in League Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in an exciting League Cup final on Sunday.

London screens Iranian director's film amid Oscars boycott

Thousands of people watched a free screeening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman" in London on Sunday to coincide with the Oscars.

Real Madrid stage comeback to stay top; Messi scores in Barcelona win

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to move top of the Spanish first division.

Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel has joined the Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.

Biggest Bosnian Serb party ceases all contact with Izetbegovic over ICJ judjment review request

The main committee of the biggest Bosnian Serb party which makes up the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided o Sunday that its officials would cease all contact with member of the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic until the crisis occurred following the submission of a request to the International Court of justice (ICJ) to review its ruling against Serbia is resolved.

Egypt court adjourns Morsi retrial over prison escape

An Egyptian court adjourned a case against former president Mohamed Morsi until March 29 on Sunday, during the first session of his retrial over orchestrating a prison escape during the 2011 uprising.

Hamas rejects Netanyahu's proposal for international forces in Gaza

The Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to send international forces to the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since 2007.

Deloitte: Growing optimism among CFOs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Croatia are more optimistic about growth and financial prospects in 2017 than they were last year, with most of them expecting increases in their company's revenue, a survey shows.

Russian agents main suspects for attempted coup in Montenegro

Russian citizens Eduard Shumakov and Vladimir Popoc, suspected of organising terrorist activities in Montenegro and forming a criminal organisation, are agents of Russia's Main Intelligence Agency (GRU), British, U.S. and other intelligence agencies confirmed, the Podgorica-based media reported on Sunday.

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.