German journalist denied entry to Turkey amid media freedom rift

A German journalist for public broadcaster ARD has been denied entry to Turkey, where he had planned to report a story about refugees in the Syrian border region.

Volker Schwenk, who reported extensively in Libya during the Arab Spring and now heads the broadcaster's regional TV team in Cairo, is awaiting deportation in Istanbul.

"Last stop Istanbul. Refused entry to Turkey. [Apparently] there was a comment attached to my name. Am a journalist. A problem?" Schwenk tweeted early Tuesday.

Public broadcasters SWR and ARD reported the incident Tuesday and said they were in contact with the Foreign Ministry and the German embassy in Ankara.

The Foreign Ministry would not confirm Schwenk's identity but said it was aware a German citizen had been denied entry to Turkey and that consulate staff had gone to the airport to make contact with him.

Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu was reporting that Schwenk had been deported, but dpa could not independently verify whether he had left the country.

Schwenk has gone on several reporting trips to rebel-held areas in northern Syria. Like many journalists, he chose to travel via Turkey.

Ankara had long tolerated this practice but recently toughened its stance, saying it constitutes an illegal border crossing.

Turkey and Germany are engaged in a diplomatic stand-off that resulted last week in Chancellor Angela Merkel authorizing criminal proceedings against a comedian who insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel criticized the actions during his visit to Morocco on Tuesday, calling it "more than problematic that [Schwenk] doesn't have free movement within Turkey" and saying that journalists and reporters can't be treated that way.

In March, Hasnain Kazim, a reporter for news magazine Der Spiegel, was denied accreditation by the Turkish authorities and was forced to leave the country.

Last update: Tue, 19/04/2016 - 18:13
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