Journalist Yücel files lawsuit against Turkey for unjust imprisonment

Die Welt’s Turkey correspondent Deniz Yücel was arrested on baseless charges of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization and inciting people to hatred and enmity.

Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel, who works for the German Die Welt newspaper and was jailed for about a year in Turkey on terror charges, has filed a TL1 million (around $155,000) lawsuit against Turkey on the grounds that he was unjustly imprisoned.

The news about the suit filed by Yücel was shared by the Turkish Twitter account of international journalism organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday.

The lawsuit was filed by Yücel’s lawyer, Veysel Ok, at the İstanbul 17th High Criminal Court, and the first hearing will be held on Sept. 25, according to RSF’s statement.

Yücel was working as a Die Welt correspondent in Turkey when he was taken into custody by police in İstanbul on Feb. 14, 2017. A warrant for his arrest was issued a short time later. By March, the 44-year-old journalist was transferred to İstanbul’s maximum-security Silivri Prison and court complex. Many media and rights advocates considered him a hostage of Turkey’s government, and his arrest strained relations between Ankara and Berlin.

The journalist was released pending trial on Feb. 16, 2018. He quickly left Turkey and returned to Germany.

The next hearing in Yücel’s trial will be held on Dec. 20. He faces a jail sentence of up to 18 years on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda and fomenting hatred and enmity among the public.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of August 15, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 145 journalists who are living 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 some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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