Turkey issues arrest warrant for Die Welt journalist Yücel

Deniz Yücel

A Turkish court on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for Die Welt columnist Deniz Yücel, who is being tried in absentia on charges of degrading the Turkish state and judicial organs and insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) reported.

At the sixth hearing of Yücel’s trial on Thursday, the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance decided to issue an arrest warrant for Yücel for failing to submit a statement.

The court adjourned the trial until October 17.

The charges against Yücel were based on Articles 299 and 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). The two separate cases were merged in 2021 by the court.

According to Article 299, whoever insults the president can face up to four years in prison, a sentence that can be increased if the crime was committed through the mass media.

Article 301 criminalizes public denigration of “Turkishness, the Republic or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.” 

The infamous Article 301 of the TCK was frequently used in the 2000s to prosecute intellectuals on charges of insulting Turkishness. In the wake of widespread criticism from local and international rights groups and the European Union, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government amended the controversial article in 2008 and made permission from the Justice Ministry a prerequisite for the launch of investigations based on this article.

The former Turkey correspondent for the Die Welt newspaper, Yücel was jailed in Turkey from February 2017 to February 2018. 

His detention caused a rift between the Turkish and German governments, with Berlin using diplomatic channels to secure his release.

He then returned to Germany, where he published a book recounting his detention in Turkey, and in May 2019 he testified before a Berlin court, revealing the torture and ill-treatment he was exposed to during his detention. Yücel said he holds President Erdoğan personally responsible for the abuse he endured.

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