German-Turkish journalist makes defense in insult case against prosecutor

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Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel delivered his defense at a court in Berlin on Monday in a case in which he is accused of insulting a Turkish prosecutor by calling him a “fool,” Deutsche Welle Turkish version reported.

Yücel, a reporter for the German Die Welt newspaper, submitted his defense at the Amtsgericht Berlin-Tiergarten, a district court. Yücel’s lawyer, Veysel Ok, was also present during the hearing.

Yücel is accused of publicly insulting a public official in tweet he posted on Feb. 20, 2019 in which he described then-İstanbul deputy chief public prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz as the “stupidest prosecutor at Çağlayan,” a reference to the İstanbul courthouse.

In his defense Yücel explained how Yılmaz kept him in pre-trial detention for one year and that the indictment he subsequently drafted was filled with translation and legal errors. The journalist said the expression “the stupidest prosecutor at Çağlayan” was not his but that of a person familiar with members of the judiciary at the courthouse and that he had no objections to the description.

İstanbul prosecutors were seeking up to 15 years, three months for Yücel, who was detained and arrested in February 2017. He remained imprisoned until February 2018 when he was formally charged with disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization, which led to a rift between the Turkish and German governments, with Berlin using diplomatic channels to secure his release.

Yücel also used the word “salak,” which translates as “stupid” in English and is not insulting, according to the Turkish Linguistic Society (TDK).

He also presented another indictment drafted by Yılmaz for the prosecution of prominent Turkish businessman and rights activist Osman Kavala to the court, saying that Yılmaz is a useful judicial tool of the Turkish government.

Kavala has been behind bars for more than three years on politically motivated charges.

Yılmaz was appointed as deputy justice minister in October 2020.

Yücel was working as a Die Welt correspondent in Turkey when he was taken into custody by police in İstanbul, on Feb. 14, 2017. He was arrested a short time later. By March he had been transferred to İstanbul’s maximum-security Silivri Prison and court complex. Many press and rights advocates considered him a hostage of Turkey’s government.

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