Deniz Yücel, German Die Welt newspaper’s correspondent in Turkey, was arrested in February 2017 in connection with a probe into the leaked e-mails of Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law.
On 27 February 2017, 13 days after his arrest, the Istanbul 9th Criminal Judgeship of Peace ruled to jail Yücel pending trial on charges of “terrorism propaganda” and “inciting animosity and hatred” in his newspaper articles.
Yücel’s detention sparked diplomatic tension with Germany. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly said that Yücel was a German spy and a terrorist and that he will not be extradited to Germany.
Yücel’s lawyers have filed applications on his behalf with both the Turkish Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
In early July, news reports said that an indictment into six journalists who were first arrested in December 2016 in connection with the leaked e-mails of Berat Albayrak was completed and submitted to a court. The indictment did not list Yücel among the defendants and stated that Yücel’s case was separated from the case file, notwithstanding initial reports that he was sought for arrest as part of the same investigation.
On 5 July 2017, the European Court of Human Rights notified Yücel’s lawyers that his application has been communicated to the Turkish government and that it gave the government until 24 October 2017 to present its defense. It also announced that the German government has been invited to state its opinion on the application of Yücel, a national of both Turkey and Germany.
On 16 February 2018, Yücel was released from pre-trial detention, after a court accepted an indictment into Yücel, formally opening trial proceedings, and ruled to release him pending trial. Yücel is charged with “terrorism propaganda” and “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” in the indictment.
Hours after he was released from Silivri Prison, Yücel left Turkey for Germany on a private plane.
The first hearing of Yücel’s trial was held in his absence on 28 June 2018 at the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Yücel’s lawyer requested his immediate acquittal saying he was on trial for his journalistic activities. The court rejected the request for Yücel’s acquittal, although it agreed that Yücel can give his defense statement abroad. The next hearing in the case will be held on 20 December 2018.