German journalist in court case cleared to leave Turkey

Mesale Tolu’s case has soured German-Turkish ties in recent years. (AFP)
Updated 21 August 2018
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German journalist in court case cleared to leave Turkey

BERLIN: A Turkish court has ruled that German journalist Mesale Tolu can leave the country, eight months after being released from prison during a trial on terror-related charges.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday that the decision, taken a few weeks ago but only made public now, is "a step toward improving our relations with Turkey."
But he added that "it is also clear that this cannot remain the only step," pointing to at least seven other cases in which German citizens are detained in Turkey for what Berlin considers political reasons.
The journalist’s case has been one of several that have soured German-Turkish relations over the past two years.
A group that has campaigned for Tolu said that a court lifted conditions imposed on her after her release but that an exit ban on her husband, Suat Corlu, who has faced similar charges in the same proceedings, was not lifted.
Those restrictions had been put in place by an Istanbul court last December. Though it said Tolu could go free, it barred her from leaving Turkey and required her to report to authorities at regular intervals.
Tolu has been charged with engaging in terrorist propaganda and being a member of a banned left-wing group, the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party.
She rejects the accusations. There has been no verdict yet in the trial.
Though relations between Germany and Turkey have been strained, Berlin has made clear its desire to see an economically stable and prosperous Turkey, which has been grappling with a currency crisis heightened by tensions with the US over the case of a detained American pastor.

Berlin visit
Over the weekend, the leader of Germany's junior governing party raised the possibility of some kind of German help.
"A situation could arise in which Germany has to help Turkey, independently of the political disputes with President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan," Andrea Nahles of the center-left Social Democrats was quoted as telling the Funke newspaper group. She noted that Turkey is a NATO partner.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, gave that a cautious response.
"The question ... of German aid for Turkey does not currently arise for the German government," he told reporters Monday.
Asked about the possibility of an International Monetary Fund package, Seibert said that seeking one is always a matter for the country concerned and the Finance Ministry said it didn't come up in a conversation between the German and Turkish finance ministers last week.
Erdogan is scheduled to make a state visit to Berlin Sept. 28-29.
Ahead of that, Turkey's finance, transport and trade ministers will hold talks in Germany on Sept. 21, Finance Ministry spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.


Tutankhamun relic sells for $6 mn in London despite Egyptian outcry

Updated 04 July 2019
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Tutankhamun relic sells for $6 mn in London despite Egyptian outcry

  • Christie’s auction house sold the relic for £4,746,250
  • Angry Egyptian officials wanted Thursday’s sale halted and the treasure returned

LONDON: A 3,000-year-old quartzite head of Egyptian “Boy King” Tutankhamun was auctioned off for $6 million on Thursday in London despite an outcry from Cairo.
Christie’s auction house sold the 28.5-centimeter (11-inch) relic for £4,746,250 ($5,970,000, 5,290,000 euros) at one of its most controversial auctions in years.
No information about the buyer was disclosed.
The famous pharaoh’s finely-chiselled face — its calm eyes and puffed lips emoting a sense of eternal peace — came from the private Resandro Collection of ancient art that Christie’s last auctioned off 2016 for £3 million.
But angry Egyptian officials wanted Thursday’s sale halted and the treasure returned.
Christie’s decision “contradicts international agreements and conventions,” Egypt’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday..
Former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass told AFP that the piece appears to have been “stolen” in the 1970s from the Karnak Temple complex just north of Luxor.
“We think it left Egypt after 1970 because in that time other artefacts were stolen from Karnak Temple,” Hawass said.
Christie’s countered that Egypt had never before expressed the same level of concern about an item whose existence has been “well known and exhibited publicly” for many years.
“The object is not, and has not been, the subject of an investigation,” it said in a statement to AFP.
The auction house has published a chronology of how the relic changed hands between European art dealers over the past 50 years.
Its oldest attribution from 1973-74 places it in the collection of Prince Wilhelm of Thurn and Taxi in modern-day Germany.
Yet that account was called into doubt by a report from the Live Science news site last month suggesting that Wilhelm never owned the piece.
Wilhelm was “not a very art-interested person,” his niece Daria told the news site.
A journalist and art historian who knew Wilhelm told Live Science site that the prince had no arts collection at all.
Tutankhamun is thought to have become a pharaoh at the age of nine and to have died about 10 years later.
His rule would have probably passed without notice were it not for the 1922 discovery by Britain’s Howard Carter of his nearly intact tomb.
The lavish find revived interest in ancient Egypt and set the stage for subsequent battles over ownership of cultural masterpieces unearthed in colonial times.
Tutankhamun became commonly known as King Tut and made into the subject of popular songs and films.
International conventions and the British government’s own guidance restrict the sale of works that were known to have been stolen or illegally dug up.
The British Museum has been wrangling for decades with Greece over its remarkable room full of marble Parthenon friezes and sculptures.
Egypt’s own campaign to recover lost art gained momentum after numerous works went missing during the looting that accompanied former president Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power in 2011.
Cairo has managed to regain hundreds of looted and stolen artefacts by working with both auction houses and international cultural groups.
But Egypt has been unable to substantiate its case with firm proof that the Tutankhamun bust was illegally obtained.
Christie’s told AFP that it would “not sell any work where there isn’t clear title of ownership.”