German journalist released by Turkey unable to rejoice as hundreds remain imprisoned

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The spokesman for the solidarity circle for her freedom, Baki Selcuk stands next to German journalist and translator, Mesale Tolu, who is on trial in Turkey on terror-related charges, during a press conference on August 26, 2018 at the airport in Stuttgart, southern Germany, where she arrived after Turkish authorities had lifted her overseas travel ban. An Istanbul court in December had conditionally released Tolu, 34, who was held for over half a year on charges of membership of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), which is banned in Turkey as a terror organisation, but the journalist could not leave Turkey. / AFP PHOTO

German journalist Meşale Tolu has returned to Germany with her three-and-a-half-year-old son after a travel ban imposed on her was lifted on Aug. 20 by a Turkish court, Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkey reported on Sunday.

“Hundreds of opponents remain in jail [in Turkey]. That’s why I cannot take too much pleasure in having returned here,” Tolu said at an airport press conference in Stuttgart, where she landed.

Tolu was detained in April 2017 on charges of membership in a left-wing extremist group and of spreading terrorist propaganda. After eight months in detention, she was released in December 2017 with a ban on leaving the country.

On Monday she announced on Twitter that her travel ban had been suspended upon her lawyer’s application and that she still was awaiting trial on Oct. 16.

Tolu spoke about her detention, the charges against her and her release at the press conference.

She said that since her husband was also detained, they had no one to take care of their son, who as a result had to stay with her in jail for six months. Later, she sent him to Germany as prison conditions were ill suited for children.

Since her release in December 2017, Tolu’s lawyers repeatedly petitioned the court every month for the lifting of her travel ban. “It was rejected every time. Finally, in August, our petition was accepted and the ban was reversed,” Tolu said.

“While I am here today, hundreds of students, lawyers and colleagues of mine who are critical of the government remain detained. I really cannot rejoice about the fact that I was able to come here since I know that nothing has changed in the country where I was imprisoned,” Tolu said, adding that she would continue fighting for the release of people who are detained in Turkey.

“Being here will take some getting used to since I haven’t been in Germany for the last 17 months. I left my husband behind, while my little son also needs to get used to Germany and to learn the language. Even though I have no health problems, I am going to need some time to get over what I have gone through,” Tolu added.

In response to a question as to why her travel ban was lifted at this particular moment, Tolu said: “Some say that there is a rapprochement under way between Germany and Turkey and that that is why I was freed. It may be the case, but I don’t know for a fact whether it really is.”

Germany had demanded the release of several of its citizens, some of Turkish origin, detained in Turkey on political grounds, as a prerequisite for improving strained ties between the two countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is anticipated to pay a state visit to Germany in autumn.

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