Turkish FM says judiciary told to speed up indictment of German journalist Yücel

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday that the Turkish government was encouraging the judiciary to speed up an indictment against German journalist Deniz Yücel, Deutsche Welle reported.

“I am also not very happy that the indictment is still not there. But we can only encourage the judiciary to speed up the process. We have done that already,” the foreign minister said in an interview with the German dpa news agency.

Yücel, a Turkish-German dual citizen and a journalist for Germany’s Die Welt newspaper who was detained on Feb. 14 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, was arrested by a court on Feb. 27 and sent to Silivri Prison in İstanbul on charges of spreading “terrorist propaganda” and “inciting hatred.”

His detention has soured already tense ties between the two countries.

“The accusations against Deniz Yücel are very serious,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that if the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) were to order Yücel be released from pre-trial detention, he would expect the independent Turkish judiciary to comply.

The reporter filed a complaint with the ECtHR after local judges denied his requests for release. After several deadline extensions sought by Turkey, the Turkish government told the court in December that it considers Yücel’s pretrial detention to be justified and called for his appeal to be rejected, saying the measures taken against the journalist were “necessary and appropriate.” The court is due to make its ruling soon.

Çavuşoğlu also said he expected relations with Germany to improve in 2018, adding that Turkey had a “good dialogue” with Germany and that his German counterpart, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, was a “personal friend.”

“I think both sides are ready to normalize relations. So I am expecting a much better year in 2018,” he said. “From our side, we don’t see any crisis. Turkey has no problem with Germany. But Germany has a problem with Turkey, and Germany does not miss an opportunity to attack Turkey.”

However, in an interview with Berliner Zeitung, Germany’s Green Party Co-Chair Cem Özdemir has said that Çavuşoğlu gives positive messages to Germany because of Turkey’s financial difficulties. Özdemir said, “Turkish FM must put away his statements that Turkish jurisdiction is independent and come to the point. Turkey’s financial situation is bad and the country immediately needs German tourists and German investors to prepare the country, which has been getting politically and economically isolated, for the presidential elections”.

Özdemir has also said that normalisation between Turkey and the European Union and Germany is impossible as long as the political figures and NGO representatives are in prison.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 242 journalists and media workers are in jails as of December 30, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 215 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 138 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.

 Some 50,000 people have also been jailed in Turkey since a failed 2016 coup against the government of President Erdoğan.

There are currently about a dozen German nationals in Turkish detention, which has caused diplomatic relations between the two countries to worsen considerably.

Meanwhile, Turkey wants Germany to extradite a number of people it says are connected to the coup attempt and the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Çavuşoğlu lamented an “Erdogan-bashing trend” abroad and said Germany should treat Turkey as an equal partner.

He also encouraged Germans to visit Turkey despite the fact that the two countries had issued mutual travel warnings, saying that Turkey was “a safe country” and that “the Turks traditionally consider the Germans good friends.”

The number of Germans visiting Turkey has plummeted over the past two years. In the first 10 months of 2015, 5.1 million Germans visited Turkey, but during the same time period of 2017, only 3.3 million Germans entered the country. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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