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Merkel Grants Turkish Request to Prosecute German Satirist

  • Decision draws rebukes, exposes rift in coalition government
  • German satirist read lewd poem lampooning Turkish president
Angela Merkel.

Angela Merkel.

Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
Updated on

Chancellor Angela Merkel granted Turkey’s request to prosecute a German satirist who derided President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a decision that exposed a rift in her government and risked a backlash among the German public over press freedoms.

The episode, which began with a lewd joke directed at Erdogan on national television last month, lays bare the pitfalls in Germany’s dependence on Turkish help to tackle the region’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. While Merkel left the legal fate of the comedian, Jan Boehmermann, in the hands of the country’s courts, she said her government will seek to scrap the law in Germany’s criminal code that penalizes insults against a foreign head of state.