Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking an interim injunction against Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner in order to prevent him from repeating a poem by German comedian Jan Böhmermann, after Springer penned an open letter expressing support for the satirist, Deutsche Press-Agentur has reported.
Döpfner, CEO of one of Europe’s largest digital publishing houses which owns Bild and Die Welt, among others, recently penned an open letter for German daily Welt am Sonntag expressing full support for Böhmermann, after a political crisis between Turkey and Germany erupted following Böhmermann’s satirical poem.In his letter, Springer said the poem was “successful” and made him laugh. He also volunteered to have all the statements in the poem, including the “insults,” legally attributed to him as well.
Erdoğan’s attorney in Germany, Ralf Höckner said they had appealed for an interim injunction decision against Springer following his “open support” for the poem, adding that they would appeal to a higher court in the event that the court in Cologne declines to issue the injunction.
The local court was not inclined to issue the injunction, Höckner admitted, but reminded reporters of the case against German director Uwe Boll, who was granted an injunction after producing a video inspired by Böhmermann’s poem.
Erdoğan’s lawyer also likened the poem and the messages of support to a “gang rape.”
“Mr. Erdoğan is also a person and human dignity is untouchable,” Höckner said, arguing that “dignity ranks higher than freedom of the press, expression or arts.”
The row between Böhmermann and Erdoğan spilled over into diplomatic relations between Germany and Turkey shortly after the two countries reached an agreement in March to send migrants traveling illegally from Turkey to Greece back to Turkey, in return for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to the Schengen zone and some 6 billion euros in refugee support.
Erdoğan’s request to press criminal charges against Böhmermann was controversially granted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 15, under a rarely-enforced section of the criminal code on insulting organs or representatives of foreign states.