German MP temporarily detained in Turkey over social media posts

German Left Party MP Gökay Akbulut on Aug. 3 was detained in the airport after entering Turkey and released after the German Foreign Ministry intervened. In response, the German Federation of Journalists warned journalists against traveling to Turkey on business or personal trips.

Duvar English

German Left Party MP Gökay Akbulut on Aug. 3 was temporarily detained during passport control after entering Turkey despite stating that she was an MP.

Akbulut was held at the airport for several hours on the grounds that there was an arrest warrant against her on the ground of spreading "terrorist organization propaganda." The police then took Akbulut to the police station and the prosecutor's office after a health check. 

She was released at night after the German Foreign Ministry intervened in the situation. 

Akbulut said she left Turkey the next day and crossed into Greece. She confirmed that the case against her had been expunged and the arrest warrant lifted, according to the Deutsche Welle Turkish

The investigation was initiated by the Kayseri Chief Public Prosecutor's Office over Akbulut's posts on her social media accounts in 2019 on charges of spreading "terrorist organization propaganda.” 

She made a short statement on her social media account following the media reports and said, "This incident once again showed that there is no separation of powers in Turkey. You will not be able to intimidate me by issuing an arrest warrant against me."

The MP also added that she had received several death threats from Kayseri province and left the country after a short visit to her relatives. 

Born in central Anatolian Kayseri province, Akbulut has been a federal member of the Left Party since 2017 and is a member of the German-Turkish Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. Akbulut will organize an official visit to Turkey with the group delegation in October.

Akbulut is known for her work on migrants' rights in the Bundestag and she submitted a parliamentary motion in 2022 to lift the ban on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) activities in Germany. The PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993 and has been on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations since 2002.

German Federation of Journalists warns members not to travel to Turkey

The German Federation of Journalists (DJV) warned journalists against traveling to Turkey for business or personal purposes after Akbulut's detention became public.

"The case shows once again that the (Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan autocracy sees its critics as militant enemies of the state and persecutes them when the opportunity arises," said DJV’s chair Frank Überall. "If even parliamentary immunity does not protect a person from being detained in Turkey, the danger for journalists is much greater," he added.

The spokesperson for the German Federal Foreign Office on Aug. 14 also drew attention to the German government’s travel statement on Turkey in response to a question at the press conference about whether journalists are more at risk than other professions when traveling to Turkey.

The statement warns of arbitrary arrests and detentions in Turkey, particularly of dissidents along with Alevi and Kurdish citizens, who may be detained or sent back with an entry ban. The document also notes that such sanctions can be triggered by simply liking a post on social media or by allegations of insulting the president.