Top court rules German-Turkish journalist’s rights violated during detention in Turkey

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Journalist Deniz Yücel

Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled on Friday that rights violations had occurred in the one-year-long pretrial detention of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, Turkish media reported.

The court said there were violations of freedom of the press and expression and the right to freedom in Yücel’s case.

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 on terrorism charges. By March the 44-year-old journalist was transferred to İstanbul’s maximum-security Silivri Prison and court complex. Many press and rights advocates considered him a hostage of Turkey’s government, and his arrest led to tensions between Ankara and Berlin.

The journalist was released pending trial on Feb. 16, 2018. He left Turkey immediately and returned to Germany.

Yücel’s lawyers filed an individual petition with the Constitutional Court in March, claiming rights violations during his pre-trial detention.

The court made its ruling on Yücel by a majority of votes, with two members dissenting, and also ruled that TL 25,000 be paid to the journalist for non-pecuniary damages he sustained.

Yücel’s arrest strained relations between Turkey and Germany, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel describing the journalist’s arrest as a burden on bilateral relations.

Part of the charges leveled at Yücel were related to an interview he conducted with a senior Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) operative, Cemil Bayık, for which he was accused of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.

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