Jailed Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel taken out of solitary confinement

Imprisoned Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel has reportedly been taken out of solitary confinement. Germany’s Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas said that “Finally some things are changing.” Germany’s Die Welt daily has reported that Deniz Yücel was transferred to another cell on Sunday following a pre-trial detention of 290 days by citing Yücel’s lawyer.

According to the report, journalist Yücel is still kept in a confinement cell, however, he can now share a common yard with former Habertürk employee Oğuz Usluer.

German Justice Minister Maas described the development as a “great news” and added that “Finally some things are changing.” Maas noted that they will “do everything in their power to bring Yücel back home” and will do it “step by step.”

Welt correspondent Yücel, who has both Turkish and German citizenship, was arrested on charges of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” and “inciting people to enmity and hatred.” There is no indictment prepared for Yücel yet.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said the worst times in Turkish-German relations have been left behind and that ties are en route to be revitalized, which will make 2018 more progressive in comparison to the tumultuous year of 2017.

“German Turkish relations are on the mend. Relations are improving after they bottomed out. The worst is behind us; 2018 is going to be a much better year, hopefully,” the deputy prime minister said in an address he gave to leading Turkish and German businesspeople.

Warming the atmosphere with his positive messages directed at long-time German businesspeople operating in Turkey, Şimşek said the hectic environment between the two countries for the past couple of years was “just a temporary breakdown.” “Let’s just move on,” the minister said, adding that the rollercoaster-like period “was only a bad spell.”

Drawing audience’s attention to the recent reciprocal attempts to mend ties, Şimşek said there have been positive signals for normalisation. You are probably aware that there have been some strong positive signals. President Erdoğan was on the phone with the German president and chancellor,” he said.

Furthermore, Şimşek said that “strong lower level dialogue in the past couple of months” also helped the two sides reflect better on matters. “We are addressing some of the issues that soaked up the oxygen in our relations,” he stressed.

Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in September proposed to Berlin a swap of some Turks who took refuge in Germany for German citizens who are jailed in Turkey, Deutsche Welle reported on Friday.

According to a Der Spiegel report, Erdoğan proposed the swap of jailed German journalist Deniz Yücel and other German citizens in Turkey for Turkish officers who have sought asylum in Germany following a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Erdoğan floated his proposal to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who visited Turkey at the end of September to seek the release of German activist Peter Steudtner.

Schröder visited Turkey upon the request of Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and with the approval of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met with Schröder before his visit to Turkey. Steudtner was released from İstanbul’s Silivri Prison on Oct. 26.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 256 journalists and media workers are in jails as of November 21, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 230 are arrested pending trial, only 26 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

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