October 22, 2016

Erdogan ‘seeking injunction against German media executive’

Turkish President Erdogan greets his supporters during an opening ceremony in Istanbul

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is seeking a preliminary injunction against German publisher Axel Springer’s chief executive Mathias Doepfner, Erodogan’s lawyer said on Tuesday.

Ralf Hoecker, the lawyer, told Reuters the Turkish leader wanted the injunction due to Doepfner’s support for a poem read out by comedian Jan Boehmermann on German national television in March. In the poem Boehmermann suggested Erdogan hits girls, watches child pornography and engages in bestiality.

In an open letter published in German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in April, Doepfner expressed solidarity with Boehmermann, saying he had laughed out loud over the poem and “wholeheartedly” supported what the comedian had said.

Hoecker said he would recommend that Erdogan pursue his case with a higher German court if the preliminary injunction was rejected, as expected. He said he expected a quick decision.

Erdogan’s office was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

A spokeswoman for Springer said: “We do not yet have any information about this at all. It’s important to note that Mr Doepfner wanted to defend the freedom of art and satire in his open letter – that was the reason for his letter.”

Hoecker’s law firm published a statement on its website on Monday saying it had succeeded in getting a preliminary injunction against German director and producer Uwe Boll, who in a video posted online, defended Boehmermann’s poem and said Erdogan should be shot.

“Mr Erdogan is a human being and human dignity is inviolable,” Hoecker said in that statement, adding that this was placed above the freedom of press, art and opinion in the German constitution.

Erdogan is known for his sensitivity to criticism and Turkish prosecutors have opened over 1,800 cases against people for insulting him since he became president in 2014.

Chancellor Angela Merkel drew heavy criticism for allowing German prosecutors to pursue a case against Boehmermann.

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