German Exile

German Exile

Gesellschaft und Politik 

Journalist Can Dündar symbolizes the fight for press freedom and democracy in Turkey. He was charged with espionage in 2015 after publishing allegations that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had sold arms to Syrian Islamists. After the Turkish Constitutional Court lifted his pre-trial detention, Dündar moved to Germany, where he has been living since autumn 2016.

"We didn't leave Turkey, Turkey left us," Dündar says, describing the mood of his fellow exiles. People in Turkey discretely point out that more intellectuals are concentrated in Silivri Prison near Istanbul than anywhere else in the country, which means many academics, journalists, artists and teachers are now fleeing to Germany in what could be seen as a self-inflicted Turkish brain-drain. Dündar tells German author Katja Deiß what it means to be alone in a foreign country and the pair talk to four people who had to leave Turkey to avoid imminent arrest. After opposition activist Latife Akyüz was denounced by the state-controlled media as a terrorist, she faced a hostile lynching campaign by nationalist trolls and, in the end, even her friends distanced themselves from her. "Nobody dared to say anything," she says. "We got into this situation because people kept silent." This is how the Erdogan system works. Katja Deiß wanted to travel to Turkey to report on the fate of Dündar's colleagues and friends but couldn't get a visa. But a courageous Turkish camera crew secretly accompanied the wife of "Cumhuriyet" cartoonist Musa Kart on a visit to Silivri Prison, where he was being held in solitary confinement. Kart has now been released, but the charges against him have not been dropped.


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