German press groups call for release of Die Welt reporter detained in Turkey

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

German press organizations have called on Turkish authorities to release Die Welt reporter Deniz Yücel who was detained in Turkey on Feb.17.

Yücel, the Turkey representative of the German Die Welt daily, was detained 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.

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

German Journalists Union (DJV) President Frank Überall, who spoke to the Evrensel daily on Sunday, said Yücel should be released immediately.

“Journalism is not a crime. Deniz Yücel is not a criminal but a journalist and he has done nothing other than journalism. So, we demand his immediate release,” said Überall.

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

Christian Mihr, director of Reporters Without Borders Germany, also released a statement calling for Yücel’s immediate release. Mihr said the reason behind Yücel’s detention was the critical news reports he wrote.

In the meantime, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım who was asked about Yücel’s detention during a visit to Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, said he does not have any information about the charges directed at Yücel and Yücel’s detention concerns the prosecutors.

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. 19, 2017

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