A court in Turkey on Monday arrested a reporter for a German newspaper on charges of "propaganda in support of a terrorist organisation and inciting the public to violence," according to a court witness.
Authorities detained Deniz Yucel on February 14. Yucel is a dual citizen of Turkey and Germany and a correspondent for the Die Welt newspaper.
According to a court document, in a report he published on December 12, 2016, Yucel accused Turkish security forces of burning alive terror suspect Hacer Arslan during an operation against the PKK in the south-eastern Turkish city of Sirnak.
Turkish authorities denied the report, which the court described as "discrimination not journalism."
Merkel in awkward position?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised the arrest as "bitter and disappointing" and called it "disproportionate."
"The German government expects that the Turkish judiciary, in its treatment of the Yucel case, takes account of the high value of freedom of the press for every democratic society. We will continue to insist on a fair and legal treatment of Deniz Yucel and hope that he will soon regain his freedom," she said.
Yucel's arrest could also put Merkel in an awkward position with respect to judicial independence less than seven months before what promises to be a tightly contested election in September.
Relations between the two countries strained last year after Turkey demanded that German authorities punish a TV presenter Jan Bohmermann for a poem insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan filed a criminal complaint against the satirist after the poem was broadcast on German television in March, 2016.
Merkel granted Turkey’s request to prosecute Bohmermann but left it to the courts to decide his fate. The criminal charges were dropped, but a court banned further broadcast of the poem in Germany, a finding it upheld earlier this year.
Merkel visited Turkey in February, and held discussions with Erdogan and other Turkish leaders on improving ties.