German daily reporter under detention over stories on Erdoğan’s son-in-law

Journalist Deniz Yücel participated in a vigil for jailed journalists in front of Silivri Prison on Jan. 11, 2016.

The Turkey representative of the German Die Welt daily, Deniz Yücel, has reportedly been under detention since Tuesday as part of an investigation for publishing stories on the leaked emails of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.

The prosecutor conducting the investigation, Hasan Yılmaz, cited as offenses “manipulating information received from leaked emails of Albayrak and discrediting the government.” Journalists including Yücel were accused of trying to create the perception that Albayrak is linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

After a detention warrant was issued for Yücel, he turned himself to police in İstanbul on Tuesday.

Along with Yücel, journalists Tunca Öğreten, Derya Okatan, Eray Sargın, Ömer Çelik, Metin Yoksu and Mahir Kanaat are being investigated as part of the same case. Three of these journalists, Öğreten, Kanaat and Çelik, have been under pre-trial detention since Dec. 25 over alleged links to terrorist organizations.

In November, leaked emails belonging to Albayrak showed that he is in the position of making important decisions on behalf of Powertrans, an oil company with alleged ties to ISIL that transports oil from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

Albayrak’s leaked emails show that he was asked about his views on Powertrans’ organizational structure, personnel lists and employee salaries. In one of the emails in 2012, Albayrak was informed about expenses for food for employees of Powertrans and asked for suggestions on employee recruitment and their salaries.

According to a recent report released by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), 191 journalists are either convicted and serving time in prison or jailed in pre-trial, and the most of the journalists have not even seen an indictment against them. The report also stated that 92 journalists are wanted for arrest but remain at large either in Turkey or abroad. The SCF has also said that the number of media organizations seized and shut down by the government has reached 189. ( Feb. 17, 2017 

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