European Court rules that Turkey has violated journalists’ rights

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Turkey violated the rights of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, who was imprisoned in Turkey for a year and then convicted of propaganda for Kurdish rebels.

The court in Strasbourg, France, ruled that the pre-trial detention of Deniz, a correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt, violated his right to liberty and security as well as his right to freedom of expression. It also ruled that the journalist had not been sufficiently compensated for his illegal detention. “The Court found that Mr. Yucel had been remanded and held in custody in the absence of reasonable grounds to suspect him of having committed a criminal offence,” a court statement said.

Yucel was arrested in Istanbul amid a broad government crackdown following the July 2016 coup attempt and accused of propaganda on behalf of terrorist groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK . He was held in pre-trial detention for a year and returned to Germany after his release.

In 2020, an Istanbul court found Yucel guilty of engaging in terrorist propaganda and sentenced him in absentia to more than two years and nine months in prison. A year earlier, the Constitutional Court, Turkey’s highest court, said Yucel’s year-long detention violated his rights.

His case has sparked a diplomatic crisis with Germany, which has accused Turkey of carrying out “arbitrary arrests” of German citizens suspected of links to the PKK or the network led by American cleric Fethullah Gulen. “The fact that the judges in Strasbourg have established that my right to liberty and security and my right to freedom of opinion have been violated is satisfying,” Yucel told Die Welt.

“But it is disappointing that the judges did not want to find a violation of the prohibition of torture – despite nine months of solitary confinement and despite the psychological and physical violence that I sometimes suffered at Silivri No. 9 (Istanbul)- security prison Yucel added that he was also disappointed that the court did not find that the charges against him were politically motivated.

“I suspect that even (President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not expect it,” he said, accusing the Turkish leader of “repeated public attacks” and making it the subject of political negotiations. He also said prosecutors made him wait a year for an indictment on Erdogan’s “personal orders”. Yucel was referring to statements by Erdogan in 2018 that called him a “spy” and a “terrorist”. “Even the circumstances of my release – there’s not a sliver of these proceedings that wasn’t politically motivated,” Yucel said.

Turkey and Yucel have three months to request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber of the court for a final decision, the court said. Human rights groups say Turkey is one of the world’s top jailers of journalists. The Turkish government says the detentions are not based on the journalists’ work and most are charged with terrorism-related offences.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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