Berlin discusses activist's beating with Syrian envoy

28th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

The German foreign ministry said it was holding talks with Syria's ambassador to Berlin Wednesday regarding accusations that the regime's secret services had attacked an opposition member in Germany.

A ministry spokesman said its political director would discuss with Syria's envoy the beating of a local Green party politician of Syrian origin, Ferhard Ahma, at his home early Monday.

"The meeting was ordered by Foreign Minister (Guido) Westerwelle so as to learn from the Syrian ambassador how he sees the accusations that have been levelled," the spokesman, Martin Schaefer, said.

He added the envoy had been "invited" to the ministry, not summoned.

Schaefer and an interior ministry spokesman said they were unaware of confirmed cases of the Syrian secret services attacking members of the opposition on German soil and called on investigators to get to the bottom of the case quickly, "in particular the accusations directed at Syria".

Schaefer said the ministry had frequently made it clear to Syrian diplomats "that any attempts to intimidate Syrian activists and opposition members in Germany are absolutely unacceptable".

The Green party, which Ahma represents on a Berlin district council, said two men claiming to be policemen arrived at Ahma's flat at around 2:00 am Monday, and when he opened the door began beating him with metal bars and clubs.

It said it suspected the Syrian secret services were behind the assault, in which Ahma, who is a member of the Kurdish minority and has lived in Berlin since 1996, suffered serious bruises and other wounds.

Earlier Ahma, who describes himself as a member of the opposition Syrian National Council based in Istanbul, called on the German foreign ministry to send a clear message condemning the attack against him.

"That would also serve to protect other members of the Syrian opposition in Germany," he told German news agency DPA.

A spokesman for the Berlin police, whose state security force has taken over the investigation, said Wednesday that there were no new developments in the case.

Syrian intelligence is regularly singled out in the annual reports of Berlin's domestic intelligence service as being particularly active in Germany, which has a large Syrian community.

In the 2010 edition, it primarily reported threats against relatives still living in Syria as well as arrests and ill-treatment of those travelling in Syria, including nationals with a German passport.

© 2011 AFP

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