BERLIN (AP) — German police searched the homes of two journalists for a Turkish newspaper on Wednesday in an operation that drew a sharp protest from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Prosecutors and police in Darmstadt said that the apartments of the two men in Moerfelden-Walldorf, south of Frankfurt, were searched as part of an investigation of suspicions of “compromising dissemination of personal data.” In a statement, they didn’t elaborate on the accusation.
They said that electronic storage media and other evidence were seized, and that the journalists were then released.
German authorities didn’t identify the journalists or give any other details.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “the detention of Frankfurt bureau representatives of Sabah newspaper by the German police today without justification is an act of harassment and intimidation against the Turkish media.”
It alleged that the journalists were targeted by a “false denunciation” of a member of the network linked to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen because of their reporting on its activities in Germany. The Turkish government blames Gulen for a failed coup in 2016 and considers the network to be a terrorist organization.
The ministry statement denounced what it called a “deliberate act” by German authorities between the two rounds of Turkey’s presidential election, in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking another term, and said the German ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara.
Germany has regularly expressed concern about the state of freedom of opinion and the press in Turkey. Wednesday’s Turkish statement accused Berlin of double standards.