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Germany Authorizes Prosecution of Comedian at Turkey’s Request

Jan Boehmermann, host of the late-night "Neo Magazin Royale" on the public ZDF channel is pictured during a TV show in Hamburg, Germany, August 21, 2012. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants him prosecuted for a crude poem about him.

Germany opened the way to the possible prosecution of a TV comedian who mocked Turkey’s president, but it is up to the courts to decide whether any criminal act was committed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Friday that her government will grant a Turkish request for the prosecution of Jan Boehmermann after he recited a crude poem about Turkey's president, despite "diverging opinions" within the German ruling coalition.

“The federal government has examined this request. The Foreign Office, the Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Chancellery took part in this review. There were diverging opinions between the coalition partners CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and the SPD (Social Democratic Party). The result is that in the present case the federal government will grant its approval," Merkel said.

Last week Ankara sent a letter to the German Foreign Ministry demanding the prosecution of Boehmermann for insulting a foreign head of state, which under a German law requires the government's action.

Merkel also announced that Germany would abolish that section of the criminal code by 2018.

Boehmermann read a poem on ZDF television poking fun at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Later, ZDF withdrew the passage from its archives and argued that it did not break the law.