Turkish-German journalist elected president of PEN Germany

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Turkish-German journalist and writer Deniz Yücel, who was jailed in Turkey for almost a year on bogus terrorism charges, has been elected the new president of PEN Germany, the organization announced.

PEN stands for Poets, Essayists, Novelists. The PEN Center Germany, based in the German city of Darmstadt, advocates for freedom of speech, friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers everywhere. The association is a member of PEN International, which unites over 150 writers organizations from more than 100 nations.

Yücel was elected on Tuesday evening at the general meeting of PEN Germany in Frankfurt.

“Sounds cool but it’s true. I’m very honored,” Yücel tweeted following his election.

Yücel was jailed in Turkey for nearly a year on terrorism and propaganda charges, from February 2017 to February 2018, which led to a rift between the Turkish and German governments, with Berlin using diplomatic channels to secure his release.

After his release, he returned Germany where he published a book recounting his detention in Turkey.

In May 2019 he testified before a Berlin court and revealed the physical and psychological abuse he was subjected to during his detention, holding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally responsible for the abuse.

Yücel studied political science in Berlin. He worked as a freelance journalist and was the editor of Die Tageszeitung before going to İstanbul as Turkey correspondent for Die Welt.

According to PEN, Yücel has published three books, including “Wir sind ja nicht zum Spaß here” (We’re not here for fun), “Agentterrorist” (Agent terrorist), which is a combination of the words “spy” and “terrorist” in Turkish, a label Erdoğan coined to describe Yücel, and “Demokratie und Nichtsodemokratie” (Democracy and non-Democracy).

The journalist has received several awards for his work, including the Kurt Tucholsky Prize for literary journalism (2011), the Theodor Wolff Prize (2017) and the Leipzig Media Prize (2017).

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