Istanbul: German journalist of Turkish origin arrested for investigating government
Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel in pre-trial detention. He was charged with "terrorist propaganda" and "incitement to hatred". In reality he is investigating mail hacking of Turkish Energy Minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law. The texts revealed executive pressure on media and public opinion manipulation strategies.
Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An Istanbul court has ordered the pre-trial detention of the German journalist of Turkish origin Deniz Yücel, correspondent of the daily Die Welt. Stopped on February 14, the reporter is locked up in prison since yesterday. According to the German newspaper reports judges indicted him for "terrorist propaganda" and "hate speech."
Upon hearing the news, Chancellor Angela Merkel described the news as a "bitter disappointment". The head of the Berlin government also added that it is a "overly harsh measure " because the reporter "has presented himself to the justice system and was cooperative with the investigation". And a new, very hard "attack on press freedom."
Deniz Yücel had been cooperating for over two weeks with the Turkish judiciary, which is investigating a series of articles published by the correspondent on alleged email hacking attacks of Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak. He is also the son-in-law of the President Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan and among the closest collaborators.
The hacked emails, the content of which was published last September, revealed the political pressure exerted by the government on media and public opinion and manipulation strategies promoted by Ankara on social networks. In contrast, the official version reads that the journalist was arrested for covering the "Kurdish rebellion".
Last week 170 German MEPs had published an open letter demanding the "rapid release" of Yücel.
This arrest is likely to undermine the already strained relations between Berlin and Ankara even more, exacerbated in recent months by German government criticism of the to the ethnic and political repression taking place in Turkey.
In the aftermath of the failed coup d’État in Turkey last July, President Erdogan and the Turkish government have launched a campaign of repression against its alleged perpetrators. These include supporters of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, believed to have masterminded the coup that left 270 people dead, and thousands wounded.
As well as targeting Kurds, in response to the failed coup, in recent months the Turkish authorities have arrested more than 41 thousand people, including teachers, soldiers, intellectuals, opposition politicians, businessmen, journalists, activists and ordinary citizens. About 100 thousand public sector officials have been suspended or laid off.
Analysts and experts point out that the escalation of arrests is linked to the referendum on constitutional reform, scheduled for April 16 in Turkey. A reform strongly desired by the President, which guarantees a further expansion of Erdogan's powers and the ability to stay in office beyond 2019, the actual natural expiry of his mandate.
According to the 2016 report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Turkey is ranked 151 in the world for press freedom, behind Tajikistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.