BERLIN — Two more Germans have been arrested in Turkey for what Berlin considers political reasons, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said Friday, deepening tensions between the two countries.
The arrests took place Thursday, and airport police in Antalya confirmed to the German Consulate in Izmir information on the detentions it had received through other channels, ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr said.
She wouldn’t elaborate on the people involved or the circumstances of the arrests. Adebahr said German officials hadn’t yet been allowed to speak by phone with the detainees.
The arrests bring to 12 the number of Germans held in Turkey for what Berlin considers political reasons, including two journalists and a human rights activist. At least four have dual citizenship, though that isn’t the case with the latest two.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that two German citizens of Turkish origin were detained at Antalya Airport for alleged links to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. It said they were a couple, identified only as K.A. and his wife, S.A.
Ankara blames Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for last year’s coup attempt. Gulen denies the claim.
A crackdown following the coup attempt has led to the imprisonment of more than 50,000 people with alleged links to terror groups. Critics say the purge that initially targeted people suspected of links to the failed coup has expanded to include government opponents.
Friday marked 200 days since the detention of the best-known German citizen in custody, German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel.
“The situation in which Deniz Yucel has now been for 200 days, and the situation of the other Germans jailed in Turkey, still causes us great concern,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert.
“We expect of Turkey that the German citizens who are jailed for incomprehensible reasons be freed,” Seibert added.
German-Turkish relations have been souring for over a year, particularly since the coup attempt and with the arrests that followed.
The countries also have tangled over Turkey blocking German lawmakers’ visits to German troops serving in the campaign against the Islamic State group at two Turkish air bases and over authorities’ refusal to allow rallies by Turkish government politicians in Germany. The latter spat prompted Erdogan to accuse Germany of “committing Nazi practices.”
In July, Germany’s foreign minister advised all citizens traveling to Turkey to exercise caution and threatened to withhold backing for German investments in Turkey.
Merkel said during an appearance in Nuremberg on Friday that recent events mean her government “may perhaps have to reconsider further” its policy toward Turkey, news agency dpa reported. She reiterated that talks on widening a customs agreement between Turkey and the European Union aren’t possible “under these circumstances.”
Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul contributed to this report.