German prosecutors file criminal complaint against comedian over defamation against President Erdoğan

Published 12.04.2016 01:18
Updated 12.04.2016 16:29

Mainz state prosecutors filed a criminal complaint late on Monday against German comedian Jan Boehmermann, who recited an obscene poem about President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan during a satirical show on national broadcaster ZDF.

Turkey made a formal request that German authorities prosecute Boehmermann for insults against the president.

"The Turkish embassy, in connection with the ZDF broadcast 'Neo Magazin Royale,' sent a cable to the foreign ministry," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday during a regular news conference. "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. 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 criticism on social media and members of the public. The video was criticized by some German parliamentarians.

Speaking with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu by phone late on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that the video was "deliberately hurtful" and added that they are following this issue, and these broadcasts do not reflect the German government's approach.

Responding to a question from Daily Sabah about the defamatory poem, German Ambassador to Turkey Martin Erdmann expressed his regret for the offense it may have caused while reminding that ZDF has taken appropriate action and has withdrawn the video. He added that there are limits to media freedom when the content is deliberately offensive and constitutes defamation.

The Foreign Ministry summoned Erdmann on March 29 to communicate Turkey's protest about the broadcast.

German authorities launched an investigation on April 6 to find out whether the poem – in 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.

Germany's state broadcaster ZDF apologized for 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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