German ambassador visits jailed journalist, rights defender

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Jailed journalist Deniz Yücel (R) and activist Peter Steudtner

German Ambassador to Turkey Martin Erdmann on Tuesday visited jailed journalist Deniz Yücel and activist Peter Steudtner in Silivri Prison in Istanbul, Deutsche Welle reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said that Yücel and Steudtner were “doing well given the circumstances,” after Ambassador Erdmann spoke with the two German citizens for more than an hour each.

Yücel, who was detained as part of an investigation for publishing stories on the leaked emails of President 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.

In April Erdoğan said the extradition of Turkish-German journalist Yücel to Germany will never take place as long as he is president.

Erdoğan has on many occasions accused Yücel of being a German agent and a representative of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Deniz Yücel is still in prison because in my opinion Turkey has taken him hostage,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said last week.

Steudtner was arrested in July on İstanbul’s Büyükada as he held a workshop for Turkish human rights campaigners, allegedly for supporting an unidentified terrorist organization.

Despite the Foreign Office’s mainly positive assessment of the prison conditions, both Yücel and Steudtner’s attorneys have denounced the prison environment.

According to Deutsche Welle, Ambassador Erdmann was not granted permission by Turkish authorities to visit detained journalist and translator Mesale Tolu, who was arrested in İstanbul in April and remains detained with her two-year-old at a woman’s prison. A reporter for the critical ETHA news agency, Tolu faces accusations of membership in the left-wing MLKP extremist group and spreading terrorist propaganda.

Since the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15 of last year, Turkish authorities have arrested 22 German citizens, according to the German government, nine of whom still remain detained, Deutsche Welle reported.

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