Turkey denies ex-German leader clinched activist's release

ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey's government is denying claims that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder negotiated the release of a German human rights activist from prison.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag confirmed Monday that Schroeder met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but said no "ongoing legal case" was discussed.

Bozdag said the German activist was released by "an independent and impartial" court. He slammed reports suggesting that a negotiation had taken place as efforts to portray Turkey's judiciary as one that takes "orders and directions."

Last week, a court freed German Peter Steudner and seven other activists in prison pending a verdict in their trial on terror-related charges.

Bozdag said Schroeder and Erdogan frequently meet to discuss Turkish-German or Turkish-EU relations. He said the last meeting took place with Chancellor Angela Merkel's knowledge.

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