January 18, 2018 / 7:35 PM / 6 months ago

Turkey detains five activists, including husband of freed German journalist: party

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish police on Thursday detained at least five members of two leftist parties, including the husband of German journalist Mesale Tolu, who was freed from prison last month, the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) said on social media.

The detentions came after police raids early on Thursday morning that targeted members of ESP and the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) in four provinces, including its major cities Istanbul and Ankara.

ESP said at least five members of the two parties were detained, including ESP Central Executive Board member Suat Corlu, the husband of the German journalist.

The news could complicate fledgling efforts by Berlin and Ankara to mend strained ties between the two NATO allies.

On Wednesday, the two countries resumed bilateral consultations that were suspended after Ankara’s arrest of another German-Turkish journalist, Deniz Yucel, in February 2017, although they remain at odds over his case.

Germany, home to some 3 million people with a Turkish background, remains critical of Turkey’s arrests after a failed 2016 coup of some 50,000 people, and the suspension or firing of 150,000 others, including teachers, judges and soldiers.

Turkey says the crackdown on alleged supporters of a network of followers of a Muslim cleric it blames for the coup is needed to shore up security, and has criticized Germany’s refusal to hand over asylum seekers it says were involved in the putsch.

Efforts to improve German-Turkish relations were bolstered last month when Turkey released Tolu after nearly eight months in prison and other German citizens.

Ankara has charged Tolu with being a member of a terrorist organization and publishing terrorist propaganda following the attempted military coup in July 2016.

Her husband, Suat Corlu, a journalist, had also been detained but was released in November. Both continue to face charges in Turkey, and Ankara has banned Tolu from leaving the country.

Germany insists that the detentions of Yucel and other journalists detained after the coup are unjustified and politically motivated.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay in Ankara and Andrea Shalal in Berlin; Editing by Catherine Evans

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