Yücel: I was released with a ruling ordering me to stay in prison

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German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel (L) leaves his home in Istanbul on February 16, 2018 following his release from prison. Turkey ordered the release of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, held for more than a year without charge, which could remove a major hurdle to repairing ties between Ankara and Berlin. / AFP PHOTO / Yasin AKGUL

German Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who was released on Friday by an İstanbul court following a year spent in Silivri Prison, said while leaving prison he was given a court ruling ordering him to stay in prison.

“This was a very interesting day. I was given a court decision while I was leaving the [Silivri] prison. A ruling by the 3rd Penal Court of Peace dated February 13 [2018]: Continuation of arrest. Despite this ruling I was released. Why I was released today, why I was arrested a year ago, I still do not know,” Yücel said in a video posted on social media after he arrived in Germany.

“Whatever it is. I know that neither my arrest last year — I was taken hostage — nor my release today is related to the law or the rule of law. I know this very well. I think everybody who sees this situation can understand it,” he added.

“There is a lot to say, but that is all for now.”

Yücel expressed his gratitude to all who supported him while in prison for a year.

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 President Recep Tayyip 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.

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