The Latest: Austria checking for illegal dual nationals
Posted May 18
ISTANBUL — The Latest on Turkey's strained relationship with European countries (all times local):
Austrian authorities say they are checking a list of about 100,000 citizens for evidence that some of them may be illegally holding a Turkish passport.
Double citizenship is forbidden in most cases in Austria. Those found illegally holding a second passport face loss of Austrian citizenship.
The Interior Ministry said Thursday that it received the list from the populist and anti-immigrant Freedom Party, a critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Turkish backers in Austria.
Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck says the ministry has no information on the list's origin or whether it will help in finding anyone with illegal double citizenship.
Erdogan's referendum for more power last month was only narrowly approved overall, but more than 70 percent of Turks in Austria backed it.
The Council of Europe is chiding Turkey for imprisoning a prominent human rights defender, saying such actions create a "chilling effect" in a nation already criticized for its heavy-handed actions in the wake of last year's failed coup.
The council's Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, said Thursday he was "dismayed at the sentencing of Murat Celikkan" to a year and a half in prison on terror propaganda charges because he was a symbolic co-editor for a pro-Kurdish daily.
Muiznieks said "his conviction provides a worrying illustration of a continuing trend of judicial actions targeting human rights defenders and an increasingly wide range of other civil society actors."
The 47-nation Council of Europe, which includes Turkey, is the continent's foremost human rights group and is based in Strasbourg, France.
Turkey's foreign minister says his country won't beg Germany to stay at the Incirlik airbase.
Mevlut Cavusoglu told private NTV that Turkey opened up the airbase to Germany as part of the international coalition's operations against the Islamic State group. "If they want to leave, that's up to them and we won't beg," he said.
The minister's comments come amid rising tensions between the two NATO allies. Turkey blocked a visit by German lawmakers to some 270 troops stationed at Incirlik, prompting Germany to consider moving aircraft to Jordan or Cyprus.
Cavusoglu criticized Germany for preventing him and other Turkish ministers from holding rallies in the country before the April 16 referendum on expanding presidential powers.
"If what we are doing is blackmail, then what was that?" he said.