Germany examines Turkish request to prosecute defamation against Erdoğan

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 11.04.2016 13:09

Germany said on Monday it is examining a formal request made by Turkey for it to prosecute a comedian who recited an obscene poem about Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan in a satirical show on national television.

"The Turkish embassy, in connection with the ZDF broadcast 'Neo Magazin Royale', sent a cable to the foreign ministry," government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. "That is a formal request from the Turkish side for a prosecution in connection with comments made in this broadcast."

"The content of this cable and the way forward will now be carefully examined by the government," he told a regular government news conference. "It will take a few days. I can't and don't want to anticipate the results of this examination."

The video of the program, which circulated on social media, consists of both insults and profanity directed at Erdoğan, which has garnered severe criticisms both from social media and members of the public. The video was also criticized by some German politicians in parliament, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the program "deliberately offensive."

German authorities launched an investigation on April 6 whether the poem - with which Jan Boehmermann sought to outdo the offensiveness of a previously aired song of the same subject - was in violation of a law that forbids insults against organs or representatives of foreign states, Attorney General Andrea Keller said.

State prosecutors in the western city of Mainz said they would order German state broadcaster ZDF to provide them with a recording of the poem, which it first aired on Thursday, March 31.

ZDF said late Wednesday that the authorities had not yet contacted them about the investigation and gave no further comment.

The prosecution said plans to consult the Federal Justice Ministry on whether criminal proceedings would be launched in the name of the Turkish state or Erdoğan himself.

Germany's state broadcaster ZDF apologized the satire, saying that the program "had crossed the line into slander" and pulled the program from a repeat airing.

Around 100 people gathered in front of ZDF's office last week in Istanbul to protest the poem.

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