Turkey denies entry to German journalist at Istanbul airport

BERLIN (Reuters) - Turkish officials at Istanbul airport temporarily detained and denied entry on Tuesday to a German public television journalist who planned to interview refugees at the Turkey-Syria border.

Volker Schwenck, who works for public broadcaster ARD, announced his detention on Twitter and posted a picture of an entry ban letter given to him by authorities with the headline in Turkish and English: “Inadmissible Passenger Notification Report.”

ARD said Schwenck was held for nearly twelve hours before flying back to Cairo, where he is based. He told the station’s evening news program that Turkish officials gave no explanation for refusing him entry.

In Ankara, a Turkish official confirmed a German journalist had been detained and would be deported, having attempted to contravene a blacklist by entering the country. The official gave no further details.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel had voiced concern about Schwenck’s detention, which further tested bilateral relations strained this month by Turkey’s insistence that Germany prosecute a satirist who mocked President Tayyip Erdogan on television.

In a decision criticized by media and other political parties, Merkel last week agreed to allow prosecutors to pursue a case against Jan Boehmermann under a section of the German criminal code that prohibits insults against foreign leaders.

The European Union, United States and rights groups have criticized the Turkish government for what they say is its attempt to bridle the press.

Additional reporting by Christian Rüttger, Markus Wacket, Andreas Rinke in Berlin and Orhan Coskun in Ankara; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Alison Williams and John Stonestreet