German satirist who mocked Erdogan says Merkel 'filleted' him

Jan Boehmermann (file pic) Image copyright EPA
Image caption Satirist Jan Boehmermann told his audience that the contents of the poem were barred under Germany's criminal code

A German comedian under investigation for mocking the Turkish president has accused Angela Merkel of "filleting" him on behalf of a "despot".

Prosecutors began investigating Jan Boehmermann after he read an obscene poem about Recep Tayyip Erdogan on TV.

Ms Merkel, the German chancellor, faced heavy criticism over the decision.

The comedian's comments come on World Press Freedom day, amid widespread criticism of Turkey's government over its crackdown on the country's media.

Speaking publicly about the investigation for the first time, Mr Boehmermann told Germany's Die Zeit newspaper: "The chancellor must not wobble when it's a matter of freedom of opinion.

"But instead, she filleted me, served me for tea to a highly strung despot and made me into a German Ai Weiwei."

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese dissident artist who was prosecuted and imprisoned by his home country.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Merkel has faced criticism over allegedly bowing to pressure from Mr Erdogan to investigate a German satirist

Boehmermann, considered Germany's most incisive satirist, read the obscene poem on his Neo Magazin Royale programme, making clear that it included material that broke German laws on free speech.

Section 103 of the criminal code bans insulting representatives or organs belonging to foreign states.

In particular, the poem made references to sex with goats and sheep, as well as repression of Turkish minorities. Reports said that Mr Erdogan demanded Germany press charges against the comedian.

German law forbids citizens to insult foreign leaders, but the decision to investigate Mr Boehmermann has proved highly controversial.

Prosecutors dealing with the case say they are unsure when a decision will be made on whether to pursue it.

Image copyright ZDF
Image caption The poem was read on Mr Boehmermann's Neo Magazin Royale satire programme

The Turkish president has been widely condemned for the heavy-handed treatment of journalists seen as critical of his government.

Turkish prosecutors have opened more than 1,800 cases against people for insulting him since he became president in 2014.

Also on Tuesday, Turkish novelist and Nobel prize-winner Orhan Pamuk attended a court hearing in the Turkish city of Istanbul in solidarity with a fellow writer who is accused of insulting Mr Erdogan.

In his column in the Taraf newspaper, Murat Belge suggested that the president had reignited a conflict against Kurdish rebels to win votes. He is facing four years in jail if convicted.

Mr Pamuk told a Turkish news agency he was dismayed by the growing number of cases that were trying to silence, intimidate and deter opponents of the government.

Among the most recent cases, a Dutch-Turkish journalist was last week told she was not allowed to leave Turkey after she tweeted comments critical of Mr Erdogan.

Ebru Umar was briefly arrested over the tweets, before being freed and told to report to police twice a week.

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