The International Press Institute (IPI) welcomes a Turkish court’s decision today to release Die Welt Turkey correspondent Deniz Yücel on bail following one year in pre-trial detention in solitary confinement. However, IPI stresses that a full acquittal is necessary for Yücel, who, like many other journalists in Turkey, was incarcerated simply for doing his job and without an indictment or real evidence.
Yücel was arrested on February 14, 2017 after voluntarily attending police headquarters in Istanbul. Authorities accused him of “inciting the public to racial hatred and enmity” and “spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization” through articles published in Die Welt and for his specific reporting on the email hack of Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım had hinted at a development in Yücel’s case ahead of talks in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday.
According to media reports, prosecutors today also produced the long-awaited official indictment in Yücel’s case, demanding a sentence of 18 years.
— Veysel Ok (@shemmoshemmo) 16 February 2018
Speaking to IPI on Tuesday, Yücel’s editor at Die Welt, Daniel-Dylan Böhmer, said:
“We are confident that, given an indictment, Deniz will be able to defend himself in court and given a fair trial will eventually be acquitted.”
The evidence against Yücel consisted of several articles in which he had criticized Turkey’s foreign policy in Syria. Despite the fact that some of the articles were over two years old and therefore not admissible as evidence against a journalist under Turkish press law, Yücel was still held in solitary confinement and in conditions, according to his lawyer Veysel Ok, that infringed his rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting “inhuman or degrading treatment”.
Yücel’s legal team had submitted his case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) citing breaches of Articles 3,5,6 and 10 of the Convention, among others. However, despite the fact that Yücel’s case was given priority at the ECtHR, no decision had been taken.