BERLIN (AP) — Turkish authorities' actions against freedom of opinion and the press are "highly alarming," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday, expressing doubts about the legitimacy of Turkey's detention of senior staff at an opposition newspaper.
On Monday, at least 13 staff members at the Cumhuriyet newspaper were detained, among them the chief editor, columnists and a cartoonist.
"It is highly alarming that ... freedom of the press and opinion is again and again being restricted," Merkel said in Berlin. "The latest example of this already very sad development is what happened with the editors and editor-in-chief at the Cumhuriyet newspaper, and we have very great doubts that this corresponds with the principles of a state of law."
Merkel said Germany will pay close attention to the investigation of the journalists. She noted that Germany's ambassador to Turkey visited Cumhuriyet's offices on Tuesday "to underline again how important the issue of freedom of opinion and press freedom is to us."
"Of course, such an issue also plays a central role in questions regarding membership talks with the European Union," she added.
Turkey has been engaged for a decade in slow-moving talks on ultimately becoming a member of the 28-nation bloc.
Turkey's prime minister has shrugged off European criticism, arguing that the issue of media freedom is being used by the EU to try to limit Turkey's steps in combating terrorism.