Germany slammed after banning Erdogan from addressing rally

Thousands of supporters of Erdogan demonstrate in Cologne, Germany. Picture: AP
Thousands of supporters of Erdogan demonstrate in Cologne, Germany. Picture: AP
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Turkish officials have slammed a German court decision that prevented President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from addressing a demonstration in Germany denouncing Turkey’s failed 15 July coup.

The German Embassy’s charge d’affaires was called to meet Turkish officials yesterday to discuss the issue as the attempted coup continues to strain Turkey’s relations with its allies.

Many European officials have expressed concern at the scope of Turkey’s post-coup crackdown, while Ankara has accused European nations of not standing firmly in solidarity with Turkey against the coup bid it says was masterminded by US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkish officials have said security forces have now captured all but one of the soldiers accused of trying to seize the country’s Mr Erdogan during last month’s failed coup.

Special forces arrested another 11 soldiers after a two-week manhunt near Marmaris, they announced.

Mr Erdogan was on holiday at the resort in south-west Turkey on the night of the coup attempt, but fled before his hotel was raided. The fugitives were located in a forested area, reports say.

Since the failed putsch Mr Erdogan has targeted people suspected of links to those involved. The soldiers arrested yesterday and Sunday include Major Sukru Seymen, the alleged commander, according to Anadolu news agency.

More than 20 other members of the military squad suspected of involvement had already been remanded in custody to face trial, the agency added.

Tens of thousands of people have been detained, or dismissed or suspended from roles in the military, judiciary, civil service and education. This comes after Mr Erdogan announced a sweeping reform of Turkey’s armed forces to bring them under full civilian control.

Turkey has summoned Germany’s charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry in Ankara to explain why Mr Erdogan was prevented from addressing a rally in Cologne via a video-link on Sunday.

At least 30,000 people gathered in the German city in support of the Turkish president.

Cologne police had initially banned the organisers from erecting a large video screen at the demonstration.

This ban was partially overturned by a regional court, which ruled that a large screen could be used, but only to relay the speeches of people physically present at the rally.

The right to freedom of assembly did not apply to “the delivery of opinions by a member of a foreign government or head of state via video-link,” the court found.

Tens of thousands of Turks living in Germany demonstrated in support of Mr Erdogan in Cologne.

Germany’s highest court confirmed the ruling after an appeal.

There are about three million ethnic Turks living in Germany, and they are Turkey’s largest diaspora community.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has accused Germany of “double standards”.

Turkish authorities accuse US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen of being behind the coup attempt, something he denies.

During the 15 July coup attempt Mr Erdogan spoke live on TV via his mobile phone. He said he had narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.

According to official reports, the president’s security team was tipped off that a squad of soldiers was heading to his hotel and moved him.