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Turkey arrests German for 'spreading PKK propaganda'

A man believed to be of Turkish origin has been arrested for allegedly spreading material supporting outlawed group on social media
The German national, identified only as Dennis E, is accused of disseminating pro-PKK material through social media (AFP)

Turkish authorities have arrested a German national in southeastern Turkey for allegedly spreading propaganda supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on social media.

The German national, identified only as Dennis E, was detained in the Arsuz district in the province of Hatay, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Wednesday.

No further details were immediately available and the German foreign ministry had no immediate comment, the Reuters news agency said.

In a report on Tuesday, Germany's domestic intelligence agency said members or adherents of the PKK in Germany had increased to 14,500 in 2017, up from 14,000 the previous year.

"The PKK continues to be the largest extremist organisation of foreigners in Germany in terms of members and efficiency," the BfV said in its annual report.

The group raised more than $16m in Germany and $29m across Europe in various campaigns last year, the agency estimated.  

"Even though peaceful events remain the focal aim in Europe, violence continues to be an option of the PKK ideology," the report said.

German concerns

The PKK, which has waged a three-decade campaign against the Turkish state, is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

More than 40,000 people, most of them Kurds, have died since it first took up arms in the largely Kurdish southeast.

Diplomatic tensions mounted between Ankara and Berlin over the crackdown that followed Turkey's failed 2016 coup and the state of emergency that followed, during which several German nationals were also imprisoned. The two-year state of emergency ended last week.

But following the release of several Germans, including German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, who had been indicted for security offences, the strains have eased somewhat.

Last week, Germany lifted economic sanctions on Turkey and relaxed its travel advice to the country, removing a warning on its website about its nationals facing a high risk of arrest when visiting Turkey.

Although the freeing of Yucel in February removed a key irritant in ties between the two allies, German officials remain deeply concerned about Turkey's deteriorating record on human rights and freedoms.

Since the failed 2016 coup, more than 150,000 civil servants have been fired and 77,000 people have been detained and charged.

Turkey has also launched cross-border operations into Syria against what it says are threats by the Kurdish YPG, which it deems a terrorist organisation linked to the PKK.