Austrian Chancellor Kurz Condemns Turkey’s Detention of Journalist Max Zirngast
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described Turkey’s treatment of an Austrian journalist detained in Ankara as “unacceptable” Wednesday and again called for his release.
Max Zirngast, who had written for publications including a far-left German-language magazine, was detained in September and is being held in a high-security prison near the Turkish capital.
“We expect due process to be followed and in my opinion that would mean (Zirngast’s) immediate release. The behavior of Turkey in this and other cases is unacceptable,” Kurz told reporters.
“There are too many people in Turkey who have been unjustly imprisoned,” he added.
The week after his detention Zirngast’s lawyer said he had been accused of membership of a leftist terror organization, but on Tuesday another member of his legal team told Austrian radio that no charge sheet had yet been presented to them.
In an article Zirngast wrote last month for the Washington Post, he said that authorities had questioned him over books found at his apartment and about an article he had written for the left-wing American magazine Jacobin in which he had apparently “insulted” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to Austrian media reports another four Austrian nationals are being held in Turkey, with several others having their passports confiscated, but the foreign ministry has not confirmed this.
Rights organizations have frequently criticized Turkey for its violations of press freedom, which have stepped up since a failed 2016 coup attempt.
Turkey ranked 157 out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom index published by RSF.