Deniz Yücel, a German Turkish journalist whose detention had been a source of tension between Ankara and Berlin, was released on Friday by an İstanbul court following a year spent in Silivri Prison, after he was formally charged with disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization, The New York Times reported.
The release of Yücel, a reporter for German daily Die Welt, came a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to push for his freedom.
Merkel had called Yücel’s case a “burden” on bilateral relations after the meeting on Thursday.
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 43-year-old journalist was transferred to İstanbul’s maximum-security Silivri Prison and courts complex. Many press and rights advocates considered him a hostage of Turkey’s government.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the release followed months of diplomacy that included two meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“The Turkish government always maintained that it would not exert any political influence on the court’s decision,” Gabriel said. “The independence of the court’s decision was always a main concern in all of our discussions.”
Gabriel told reporters in Munich that he believed there would be no restrictions on Yücel’s movements. “I expect that he will leave the country,” he said.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that prosecutors had filed an indictment against Yücel seeking a sentence of four to 18 years. It was at the hearing in which the reporter was indicted that the court ordered he be freed until the start of the trial, but it was believed to be a procedural step that was necessary to arrange his release.
Even before his release, the family of Yücel, who was accused by Erdoğan of acting as a German agent and a representative of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was celebrating.
“Finally!! Finally!! Finally!! Deniz is free!” Yücel’s wife, Dilek Mayatürk Yücel, tweeted.