German politician arrested in Berlin for insulting Turkish president

Bruno Kramm, leader of Berlin's branch of the German Pirate Party, was arrested Saturday for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kramm was detained while conducting a "literary analysis," in support of comedian Jan Boehmermann, outside the Turkish Embassy in Berlin. As part of the publicity stunt, he read two lines of Boehmermann poem ridiculing Erdogan.

The incident comes after chancellor Angela Merkel allowed prosecutors to file charges against Boehmermann, following Turkish demands that he be punished for broadcasting the poem on local television.

Boehmermann, however, was not physically detained by police.

RT reports that Kramm was "approached by several police officers" after he began citing the lines and taken into custody. Police dispersed the gathering, according to RT.

The arrest will further embarrass the German government, which sees itself as supportive of free speech but has failed to scrap an old law against insulting foreign heads of state. Merkel has promised to do so, but has also been criticized for condemning the poem and cosying up to the Turks to get them to accept more Syrian refugees.

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  1. Knowing the local language, listening to the video and consulting other (German-language) sources reveal a little more:

    A court hat ruled before that the protest in front of the embassy would be allowed to take place, but explicitly prohibited any recitation of or quotation from Böhmermann's poem.
    At the very point when Kramm violated that condition by going from pure literary analysis (which he seems to have a hard time reading because it contains so many big words) to explicitly quoting the poem, police step in.

    They do so quite politely ("I'm sorry but...") and Kramm of course plays it for effect. I couldn't understand everything that was said in the video, but Kramm then continues in a load voice:
    Kramm: "How about I continue to talk about this without my microphone?" (readying his notes).
    Policeman: "Then I would have to take steps to prevent [that]".
    Kramm: "So if I now say that... " (at this point he reads from his notes again, apparently from the paragraph just before the direct quote).

    This is the point when police take him away.

    The immediate reason was to prevent the violation of the court-imposed conditions for that particular protest. They had no grounds to imprison him, I gather they just did the "usual", which is to take him to a police station to formally take down & verify his name and address, and then let him go.
    He's being charged for violating the regulations concerning the public protest he organised (which might get him a fine), and he might theoretically be charged according to the same Lèse majesté paragraph as Böhnermann, seeing that he did essentially the same thing.

    That, though, is a thing that the courts need to decide before anyone spends a single night in prison.

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