Merkel backs prosecution of comedian who ‘insulted Turkish president’

German chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to let Turkey seek the prosecution of comedian who read out a crude poem about president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on TV. Ms Merkel said there were differing opinions among her coalition partners about whether Jan Boehmermann should be tried. She insisted her decision to allow Turkey to seek a prosecution was “neither a prejudgment” of any trial  nor “a decision about the limits of freedom of art. the press and opinion”. However, she is likely to be accused of cozying up to Ankara over her decision, required by an obscure German law which prohibits insulting foreign leaders.

The outcome is that the German government will give the authorisation in the current case

Angela Merkel

In his poem, Boehmermann accused Erdogan of having sex with goats and sheep while gleefully admitting he was flouting Germany’s legal limits on free expression. He told viewers that the poem was to illustrate what wouldn’t be allowed in Germany, comparing it to another channel’s earlier satirical song which also made fun of Mr Erdogan and angered Turkey. The television channel, ZDF, wiped the piece from its archives but says it didn’t break the law. However, Turkey filed a formal request for a criminal inquiry to be launched in Germany against the comedian.

Prosecution of satire due to 'lese majesty’ does not fit with modern democracy

Thomas Oppermann, senior opposition party member