Erdogan and Merkel to talk business, human rights

BERLIN - Tayyip Erdogan and Angela Merkel hope to ease tensions between their countries at a meeting on Friday, but the Turkish president may not like what he sees at a news conference he is scheduled to hold with the German chancellor.

Can Dundar, one of the Turkish journalists most critical of Erdogan, might be in the hall at the chancellery, Bild newspaper reported on its website.

Germany has been one of the fiercest critics of Erdogan's crackdown on journalists and political opponents, and if Dundar attends the news conference Merkel would be sending a message to her guest to clean up his human rights record.

Bild said the government had granted Dundar accreditation for the news conference. Dundar did not return calls seeking confirmation.

Dundar and a colleague from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Erdem Gul, were sentenced in 2016 to five years in prison for publishing a video purporting to show Turkey's intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria. They were released pending appeal and Dundar left the country.

Turkey's highest court ruled in March that Dundar should have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges.

Merkel said on Thursday she wanted to improve economic ties with Turkey but would raise human rights with Erdogan. The fate of German prisoners in Turkey will also be on the agenda.

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