Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking a preliminary injunction against a German newspaper from publishing anything critical or insulting to him or his regime.
The Turkish leader is seeking the injunction against Mathias Doepfner, the chief executive of German publisher Axel Springer.
In an open letter, Doepfner expressed his support for Jan Boehmermann, a German comedian whose satiric poem about Erdogan caused the Turkish president to complain and, with the subsequent complicity of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, filed a lawsuit in Germany. Doepfner’s letter, published in the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, stated that he had laughed loud at the poem and “wholeheartedly” supported the comedian’s right to express himself.
A spokesperson for publishing house Alex Springer claimed that the company is unaware of the recent developments, but noted that Doepfner “wanted to defend the freedom of art and satire in his open letter — that was the reason for his letter.”
Erdogan’s lawyer, Ralf Hoecker, claimed that “Mr. Erdogan is a human being and human dignity is inviolable,” adding that, “It’s like gang rape: When one starts, everyone starts coming out of the woodwork and taking part.”
Erdogan’s lawyers in Germany have filed an additional lawsuit against German movie director Uwe Boll, who also expressed his support for Boehmermann in a video posted online. Given that Erdogan has filed some 1,800 cases against people who he feels have insulted him since 2014, the backlog of cases is thought to be intense.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn sustained and vocal criticism for allowing German prosecutors to pursue the case against Boehmermann by the Turkish leader on German soil.