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.


Released by court order, US professor vows to continue struggle with Palestinians

Updated 17 September 2018
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Released by court order, US professor vows to continue struggle with Palestinians

  • Frank Romano was detained on Friday in the village of Khan Al-Ahmar as he stood in front of heavy equipment being used to clear barriers
  • The village of roughly 200 people in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is at risk of being demolished at any time, despite fierce criticism from key European nations

JERUSALEM: Israel has released an American law professor detained for allegedly trying to block Israeli troops in a West Bank village slated for demolition.

The 66-year-old Frank Romano was detained on Friday in the embattled village of Khan Al-Ahmar, along with two Palestinian activists. Pictures on social media show him being led from the scene by Israeli riot police.

Witnesses said that Romano stood in front of heavy equipment being used to clear barriers that had been set up to slow demolition. Activists said he began a hunger strike while in detention.

Gaby Lasky, Romano’s lawyer, said a court ordered his release late Sunday. She said he was freed early Monday after police decided not to appeal the decision.

Upon his release, Romano returned to the village and said: “I can continue the struggle with you.”

Israel is expected to demolish the village in the coming days.

Romano, who teaches law at the Paris Nanterre University, was released on the orders of the Jerusalem magistrates court. 

He said that police had earlier handed him to immigration officials for immediate deportation without a court hearing but he refused to sign a consent form.

“The judge called the immigration and said ‘bring him back’ and we had the hearing,” he said.

In the courtroom, the judge ordered his release, he said.

Supporters said he was allowed to stay in Israel until Sept. 25, the original date of his return flight.

He was ordered to lodge a surety of 1,000 shekels ($256, €240) and provide a guarantor for a separate 5,000 shekel bond, they said.

The village of roughly 200 people in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is at risk of being demolished at any time, despite fierce criticism from key European nations.

On Sept. 5, Israel’s supreme court upheld an order to raze it on grounds it was built without the proper permits.

It is extremely rare for Palestinians to be given Israeli permits to build in Area C of the West Bank, where Khan Al-Ahmar is situated.

The village is located in a strategic spot near Israeli settlements and along a road leading to the Dead Sea.

There have been warnings that continued settlement construction in the area could eventually divide the West Bank in two and cut it off from Jerusalem, dealing a death blow to any remaining hopes of a two-state solution.