BERLIN (CelebrityAccess) — Despite disagreement within her coalition government, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has authorized a criminal investigation into whether a comedian violated the law by reading a satirical poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a German television.
“In a constitutional democracy, weighing up personal rights against freedom of the press and freedom of expression is not a matter for governments, but for public prosecutors and courts,” Merkel said in a press conference on Friday.
"The result is, that the German government grants the right to prosecute Jan Böhmermann," she added. "I want to explain further that Turkey is a state with whom we have strong ties. There are a lot of Turkish citizen living in Germany. We have strong economic relations and our responsibility to work together in the NATO."
Turkish officials, including Erdogan, has called on Böhmermann prosecution, noting that he seems to have violated an obscure German law against insulting representatives of foreign countries, but which requires authorization from the German government to proceed with the prosecution.
If convicted, Böhmermann faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
Merkel's decision has drawn criticism from within her coalition government.
"I think this decision is wrong," Thomas Oppermann, the head of the Social Democrats tweeted. "Criminal proceedings against satire for 'insulting a majesty' do not fit in with modern Germany."