Turkish court sentences German-Turkish journalist to jail on terrorism charges

A Turkish court has sentenced Germany-based journalist Deniz Yucel to jail for 2 years and 9 months for terrorism-related propaganda charges. The sentence was imposed in absentia, as Yucel has not been present in Turkey for his trial.

Yucel’s lawyer, Veysel Ok, claims the court sentenced Yucel for spreading propaganda about the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Ok says the court has filed additional charges for insults about President Erdogan and Turkish agencies. “I was arrested because I was doing my job as a journalist,” wrote Yucel in Die Welt newspaper after the verdict. Yucel’s lawyer plans on appealing the decision. 

The Turkish government has long accused Yucel of spying for Germany and assisting terrorist organizations while reporting in Turkey. In February 2017 Turkish authorities indicted him for espionage and had him imprisoned; he was released in June 2019 by order of Turkey’s Constitutional Court and subsequently left the country.

Thursday’s verdict has put further strain on German-Turkish relations. After Yucel’s arrest, Berlin banned Turkish ministers from speaking to rallies of Turks living in Germany.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter that the verdict sends an “absolutely wrong signal” and further investigations are “incomprehensible.”