The fifth hearing in the trial of journalist Deniz Yücel, the former Turkey correspondent of German newspaper Die Welt, took place on 17 October 2019 at the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
P24 monitored the hearing, which began an hour later than scheduled. Yücel was represented by his lawyer Veysel Ok in the courtroom. Journalists and representatives from the German Consulate General in Istanbul were among spectators observing the hearing.
The presiding judge informed those present in the courtroom that the court has received Yücel’s defense statement taken in Germany, where his permanent residence is registered. The prosecutor asked the court to hand over the case file for the drafting of the prosecution’s final opinion. Ruling to hand over the case file to the prosecution, the court adjourned the trial until 13 February 2020.
German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel’s trial on the charge of “insulting a public official” over his social media posts got under way on 5 September 2019 at Istanbul’s 24th Criminal Court of First Instance.
Yücel, the former Turkey correspondent of German daily Die Welt, was not in attendance in the courtroom and was represented by his lawyer Veysel Ok. Yücel’s lawyer said they will inform the court about his client’s permanent address in Germany. The court adjourned the trial until 11 June 2020.
16 July 2019:
The trial of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel, the former Turkey correspondent of the German newspaper Die Welt, on the charges of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group” and “inciting hatred and animosity” resumed on 16 July 2019 at the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
P24 monitored the fourth hearing, where Yücel was represented by his lawyer Veysel Ok. The presiding judge announced that the court has just received the Constitutional Court’s ruling concerning the individual application of Yücel, in which the top court had ruled that Yücel’s pre-trial detention violated his rights to liberty and security, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Yücel’s lawyer then asked the trial court to render its verdict in line with the Constitutional Court ruling and without waiting for Yücel’s defense statement, taken in May in Berlin, to be sent to the trial court. In its interim ruling, the court decided to wait until they receive Yücel’s statement and adjourned the trial until 17 October 2019.
The Constitutional Court on 28 June 2019 issued its judgment concerning the application on behalf of journalist Deniz Yücel, the former Turkey correspondent of the German newspaper Die Welt, who remained in pre-trial detention in Turkey for a year before being released by the trial court’s decision in February 2018.
In its judgment, dated 28 May 2019 and issued on 28 June 2019 on the court’s official website, the court’s Second Section ruled that Yücel’s pre-trial detention violated his rights to personal liberty and security, enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution, and the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, enshrined in Articles 26 and 28.
Erdoğan let me be tortured in Turkish prison - journalist Deniz Yücel
German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel told a German court on Friday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was personally responsible for the psychological and physical violence that he underwent while in prison, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
Yücel, a former Turkey correspondent for the German daily Die Welt, spent nearly one year behind bars after being detained on terrorism and propaganda charges as part of a Turkish government’s crackdown following the July 2016 coup attempt. The journalist, released from released from jail in Feb. 2018 pending trial, has since returned to Germany.
The torture inflicted on the 45-year-old journalist was "possibly directly instigated by the Turkish president or someone in his inner circle, but in any case was the result of the smear campaign that he started and bears responsibility for," Yücel told a Berlin district court.
Yücel’s testimony in Berlin is part of an ongoing trial against him in Turkey, where prosecutors have recommended an 18-year prison sentence after a Turkish court recently ruled that the former Die Welt correspondent is allowed to testify while in Germany.
The journalist, who was at the centre of a diplomatic row between Ankara and Berlin, said he was "tortured for three days" during his pre-trial detention in the maximum security Silivri prison, where he was held between Feb. 2017 -Feb. 2018.
Yücel told the court that he was verbally assaulted and subjected to physical violence, ‘’including blows to his feet, chest, back and the back of his head. The assaults always took place where no cameras were installed,’’ Deutsche Welle said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had dubbed Yücel, accused of “making terrorist propaganda,” a "member of the outlawed Workers' Party (PKK) as well as a "German agent." Erdoğan also called the German-Turkish journalist a "terrorist."
The torture was intended to further aggravate the already strained relationship that Turkey had with Germany, Yücel told the German court, stressing that as one of the reasons he chose to delay talking about the abuse when he was released.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has detained thousands of rights activists, journalists and lawyers since the failed putsch against Turkey’s strongman Erdoğan in 2016.
Turkey placed 157th out of 180 countries on World Press Freedom Index ranking in 2018 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Turkey remains to be the "world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists" according to the same report.
Yücel, a German-Turkish dual citizen who was imprisoned for a year pending investigation, was indicted, released and allowed to leave Turkey in February. President Erdoğan called the journalist a "German agent" and a "terrorist" while Yücel was imprisoned.
28 June 2018:
Journalist Deniz Yücel’s Request for Acquittal Rejected
The first hearing of the journalist Deniz Yücel was held at the İstanbul 32nd Heavy Penal Court yesterday (June 28).
The court board rejected the acquittal request of Deniz Yücel and adjourned his next hearing to December 20, 2018.
A court case was filed against Deniz Yücel on charges of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and "inciting the public to enmity and hatred". Yücel faces a prison sentence of four to 18 years.
Attorney Ok: Yücel was targeted by pro-government media and politicians
As reported by Burcu Karakaş from Deutsche Welle Türkçe, the attorney of Yücel, Veysel Ok emphasized that his client was held in custody for 13 days though he voluntarily went to the Security Directorate to give deposition.
Arguing that the Prosecutor's Office started to search for evidence after Yücel was detained, Ok also stated, "The pro-government media and politicians targeted Yücel and accused him of being an agent." Ok demanded that his client be immediately acquitted of the pressed charges.
Yücel's request for acquittal has been rejected
The court board rejected the immediate acquittal request of Deniz Yücel on the ground that the necessary conditions have not come into existence.
The board also ruled that Yücel, who is currently abroad, shall give his deposition to a court near his place of residence.
The next hearing of Yücel will be held on December 20, 2018.
Kept in detention in İstanbul Security Directorate for 13 days, Die Welt newspaper reporter to Turkey Deniz Yücel was brought to İstanbul Justice Palace in Çağlayan on February 27 by İstanbul Organized Crimes Department units.
According to the report by BirGün daily, Yücel was questioned about his interview with Cemil Bayık, one of the founders of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and council member of Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) in 2015, reports about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Yüksekova and Cizre.
As the part of the same operation, Diken news site editor Tunca Öğreten, Dicle News Diyarbakır Bureau Chief editor Ömer Çelik and BirGün daily newspaper Executive Official Mahir Kanaat were arrested on January 18, 2017. Ömer Çelik was released on October 24, Kanaat and Öğreten were released on December 6, 2017.
Along with Öğreten, Çelik and Kanat, DİHA reporter Metin Yoksu, Yolculuk Newspaper Chief Editor Eray Sargın and ETHA Executive Official Derya Okatan who were detained on December 25, 2016, were released.
Covering house raids that were conducted on December 25, pro-government Sabah daily newspaper reported that Deniz Yücel's name was included as part of the investigation.
President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said:
"This man [Deniz Yılmaz] is a terrorist, not journalists and unfortunately the German government lumps my ministers together with this terrorist. The problem lies here.
"German Chancellor Angela Merkel told me 'We would be glad if you free him'. I told her he is not a journalist but terrorist. Deniz Yücel hid in the German Consulate General. This man is a terrorist not journalist".
Of the other arrestees Çelik was released in the first and Tunca was released in the second hearing.
Deniz Yücel was released on February 16, 2018 after being arrested for one year. (EKN/SD) Source
Police on February 14, 2017, detained Deniz Yücel, the Turkey correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt, according to Turkish and German news reports. An Istanbul court on February 27 ordered Yücel to be jailed pending investigation into claims of "propagandizing for a [terrorist] organization" and "provoking the people to hatred and animosity," the daily Evrensel reported. The first reports of his arrest suggested that the journalist was detained as part of an investigation into leaked emails belonging to Berat Albayrak, who is Turkey's energy minister and the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
According to the report, the court cited Yücel's journalistic work as evidence, in particular his interview with Cemil Bayık, a leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK); a column critical of Turkey's police towards its Kurdish citizens; two columns arguing that the evidence available did not prove that the outlawed Fethullah Gülen network was behind a failed military coup in July 2016; and another column on the destruction wrought in Cizre in the Turkish forces' battle with Kurdish separatists.
At the court hearing, Yücel, who has Turkish and German citizenship, denied being a member of a terrorist organization and said that he works as a journalist “without taking orders from the state, my boss, [or] anybody," Evrensel reported.
Yücel's lawyer, Veysel Ok, told CPJ in September 2017 that although the journalist was still under investigation in relation to the leaked emails, his case was separated from that of the co-accused in June 2017, and Yücel had not been indicted in that case.
The journalist’s lawyers appealed to the Constitutional Court to release their client, Cumhuriyet reported on March 29, 2017. The lawyers argued that their client's imprisonment violated his constitutional rights to physical integrity, personal freedom, a fair trial, presumption of innocence, freedom of communication, and freedom of speech.
Deutsche Welle reported that international journalists in Turkey said they believed Yücel's arrest was meant as a warning to them.
German and Turkish leaders have made repeated public references to Yücel’s case. Erdoğan accused Yücel of being a spy and an “agent,” and said that he would ignore demands for the journalist’s release until Germany extradited “PKK terrorists” to Turkey. In an interview published in July, the president told Die Zeit that Yücel was a terrorist because he interviewed a leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said after a meeting with his German counterpart that “a new trend has started among European intelligence agencies where they use journalists as spies," according to the pro-government daily newspaper Sabah.
The European Centre for Press Freedom reported on August 8 that Die Welt would bring Turkey before the European Court of Human Rights over the imprisonment of its reporter. Die Welt’s managing director, Stephanie Kaspar, said the newspaper’s argument would be that it cannot provide independent coverage from Turkey due to Yücel's arrest.
Yücel's lawyer told CPJ that his client was at Silivri Prison in Istanbul and that he was in good mental and physical health but had been kept in isolation since his arrest. Only his lawyers and immediate family were allowed to visit, the lawyer said.
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