ANKARA (AFP/SwissInfo)–Swiss authorities questioned the leader of a minor left-wing Turkish party for saying that the killings of Armenia’s during World War I could not be classified as genocide–the Anatolia news agency reported.
Dogu Perincek–the chairman of the Workers’ Party (IP)–was briefly detained in the Swiss town of Winterthur where he was taking part in activities marking the 82nd anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty–the founding accord of modern-day Turkey–the agency said.
He was questioned by the city prosecutor for three-and-a-half hours before being released.
Winterthur police spokesman Werner Benz was quoted by the agency as telling reporters that Perincek was questioned for saying "the Armenian genocide is an international lie," a remark deemed to be racist under Swiss law.
"This assertion contravenes anti-racism norms and constitutes a crime under Swiss law," a Zurich police official said.
Perincek already faces a complaint lodged in mid-July by the Swiss-Armenian Association following a speech he gave in May–when he said no genocide of Armenia’s ever took place.
Turkey’s foreign minister–Abdullah Gul–criticized Switzerland for detaining the Turkish politician. He described Saturday’s questioning as "unacceptable" and "absolutely contrary to the principle of free speech."
"It is not possible for us to accept these things to be done to the leader of a political party in Turkey," Gul was quoted in the Hrriyet newspaper.
"Do these actions suit a country like Switzerland?" he asked.
Two months ago–the Turkish press reported that judicial authorities in Winterthur had also launched an investigation against the head of the Turkish History Foundation–Yusuf Halacoglu–for rejecting claims that Armenia’s were the victims of genocide by Turks in a conference in the Swiss town last year.
Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey had been scheduled to travel to Turkey in 2003–but Ankara withdrew its invitation after the parliament of a western Swiss canton recognized the killings of Armenia’s in Turkey as genocide.