Germany denies Turkey access to imagery over concerns of misuse against Kurds

German Air Force, Panavia Tornado IDS aircraft (Wikimedia commons)

Germany’s Defence Ministry has ruled out allowing Ankara unfiltered access to imagery gathered by Tornado fighter jets operating out of Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

The high-resolution images, taken for the fight against the Islamic State, were placed on limited access by German lawmakers who are concerned that they could be used against Kurdish forces.

The matter surfaced in a Der Spiegel magazine report, which claimed Turkey had tried to “blackmail” Germany and get access to the imagery in return for approval of German housing investments at Incirlik. A Defence Ministry spokesperson declined to comment on the issue.

Ties have been strained between the two countries after German lawmakers voted to recognise the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide.

More recently, Turkey has accused Germany of harbouring soldiers it claims were involved in July’s failed coup attempt last year, as well as Kurdish militants.

Turkey has been engaged in a 33-year conflict with militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and recently launched the Euphrates Shield operation against Kurdish forces and the Islamic State group in Northern Syria.