Deniz Yücel, a German Turkish journalist who spent more than a year in pre-trial detention in Turkey, has criticized previous Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce for his remarks on American Pastor Andrew Brunson, calling the Turkish government “a state of gangs blackmailing others with hostages.”
Commenting on the US administration’s threat to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey for their long-time detainment of Pastor Brunson, Ince on his Twitter account claimed that this was due to the weakness of the one man rule in Turkey, citing the Brunson and Yücel cases as examples.
“Mr. İnce, today’s Turkey is not a state that is exposed to the blackmail of others. It is a state of gangs that tries to blackmail by taking the citizens of other states as hostages,” Yücel said, quoting Ince’s message on Twitter.
“You may one day understand the difference and take the lessons as truth for the CHP,” Yücel added.
The İzmir 2nd High Criminal Court on Wednesday ruled to move Brunson from pretrial detention, in which he has been held since October 2016, to house arrest in İzmir but barred him from leaving the premises or the country. The same court last week had ruled to keep Brunson, who faces 35 years, in jail, setting the next hearing for Oct. 12.
“The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!” US President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning, following up on a tweet by Vice President Mike Pence that said, “If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free.”
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.
After a long political bargaining process Yücel was released on Feb. 16, 2018 by an İstanbul court following a year spent in Silivri Prison.
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.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Yücel of acting as a German agent and a representative of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“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 : 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.”