Former Turkey correspondent Denis Yucel was sentenced in absentia by a court in Istanbul to two years, nine months and 22 days in prison on the controversial charge of “terrorist propaganda”. However, he was acquitted of the charge of “incitement of the people”. According to the journalist, the Turkish judiciary wants to open further criminal proceedings against him. He is accused of having denigrated Turkey and its symbols.
The „Association of European Journalists“(AEJ) joined other international media organisations in condemning this politically motivated judgement. „It shows that the judiciary in Turkey no longer is able to act independently from political orders“, AEJ stated. Last year, the Turkish cconstitutional court has declared the imprisonment of “Welt”-correspondent Yucel as illegal.
In a first statement for “welt.de” Yucel spoke of a “political judgement, as the whole story of my arrest was politically motivated”. His unlawful arrest and Turkey’s attempt to treat him as a “hostage” had been “a long chain of state crimes”.
“The fact that the judges decided to expose the Constitutional Court rather than the President of the Republic (…) shows once again the state of the rule of law in this country: pathetic,” Yucel said. Last year, the Constitutional Court had declared Yucel’s remand in custody illegal with reference to the freedom of the press.
From February 2017 onwards, Yucel had spent a year in the high-security prison Silivri west of Istanbul without a charge, ten months of which were spent in solitary confinement. In some articles he had criticised the Kurdish conflict and the attempted coup in July 2016. In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip had described Erdogan Yucel as a “PKK representative” and “German agent”. Only after a long political tug-of-war Yucel was released and allowed to leave the country. At the end of June 2018 the trial began in Istanbul.