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Two German journalists forced to leave Turkey after accreditation row

Istanbul bureau chief for ZDF public television Jorg Brase (R) and Tagesspiegel Turkey correspondent Thomas Seibert. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Istanbul, Turkey Mar 11, 2019, 07.45 AM (IST)

Two German journalists on Sunday left Turkey after Ankara refused to renew their accreditation, a move condemned by Berlin as "unacceptable".

Jorg Brase, Istanbul bureau chief for ZDF public television, and Thomas Seibert, who writes for the newspaper Tagesspiegel, had their applications for press cards rejected by the Turkish government for reasons both men said remained unknown.

The two journalists had to leave Turkey within 10 days of their rejection.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Saturday said on Twitter it was "unacceptable" that German correspondents could not do "their job freely" in Turkey.

He told Tagesspiegel it was "incompatible with our understanding of press freedom".

At a news conference in Istanbul before the two men left Turkey, Brase and Seibert accused the Turkish government of trying to "silence" international media.

"The Turkish government managed to more or less silence national media, and now they are now trying to do it with international media," Brase said.

"What we will definitely do is ... keep on reporting on Turkish issues but we will do it from outside Turkey, unfortunately."

Seibert said he had been accredited in Turkey as a correspondent since 1997.

Brase claimed the Turkish press attache in Berlin made an offer to ZDF and Tagesspiegel, suggesting they send different correspondents. But the offer was rejected, Brase added.

Brase said he was considering moving to Tehran since the Iranian government had given him the necessary paperwork to live there. He had been working in Turkey since January 2018.

The two men were due to leave Turkey on separate flights from Istanbul.

Relations between Berlin and Ankara had been strained following the failed 2016 coup and the arrest by Turkish authorities of tens of thousands of people including Germans.

But after the release of German citizens including German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel and journalist Mesale Tolu, ties improved.

It is believed around 40 foreign journalists in Turkey including German reporters are still waiting for accreditation.

German public broadcaster NDR correspondent Halil Gulbeyaz said this month his application for accreditation had also been rejected.

The German foreign ministry updated its travel advisory for Turkey on Saturday to say there was a risk that the Turkish government could "take further measures against representatives of the German media or civil society institutions".

Story highlights

Jorg Brase, Istanbul bureau chief for ZDF public television, and Thomas Seibert, who writes for the newspaper Tagesspiegel, had their applications for press cards rejected by the Turkish government for reasons both men said remained unknown.