October 19, 2017 / 8:06 PM / 2 months ago

Erdogan critic held in Spain returns to Germany denouncing 'despotism'

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Author Dogan Akhanli flew back to Germany on Thursday after he was briefly detained in Spain at Turkey’s request, and lambasted Ankara for launching a “failed manhunt”.

Turkey issued an Interpol warrant for the Turkish-German writer, a critic of President Tayyip Erdogan’s government, in August.

Akhanli was quickly released. But the move inflamed a row between Germany and Turkey, both NATO members. His lawyer at the time said the detention was part of a Turkish crackdown on dissidents.

As Akhanli embraced loved ones at Duesseldorf airport, a man shouted at him in Turkish: “This country cannot save you”.

The author told reporters: “I would say Turkey’s manhunt has failed, that might be why this man is so annoyed and feels the need to threaten me.”

Denouncing “despotism” in Turkey, he said reports that prominent activist and businessman Osman Kavala was arrested on Wednesday in Istanbul showed that “if this country arrests even him, then really nobody is safe there.”

Akhanli, detained in the 1980s and 1990s in Turkey for opposition activities, including running a leftist newspaper, fled Turkey in 1991 and has lived and worked in the German city of Cologne since 1995.

Ties between Ankara and Berlin have been increasingly strained in the aftermath of last year’s failed coup in Turkey as Turkish authorities sacked or suspended 150,000 people and detained more than 50,000, including other German nationals.

Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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