Die Welt reporter journalist Deniz Yücel presented his defense via letters rogatory in Berlin, in the case where he is accused of “publicly insulting” the then-İstanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor due to a tweet he posted on February 20, 2019.
The May 10, 2019-dated indictment requested Yücel’s punishment for “publicly insulting a public official.” İstanbul 24th Criminal Court of First Instance had ruled to take Yücel’s statement via letters rogatory in Berlin during the third hearing which was held on October 13, 2020.
Yücel presented his defense on June 28, at the Amtsgericht Berlin-Tiergarten Court, alongside his lawyer Veysel Ok who was also present at the hearing.
Journalist Yücel reminded in his defense that prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz was the reason he spent a year behind bars without an indictment and noted that the eventual indictment that accused him of “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” and “terror propaganda” was filled with legal errors and mistranslations.
“The expression ‘most stupid prosecutor of Çağlayan’ for which Yılmaz filed his complaint, does not belong to me. As I have stated in the tweet in question and elsewhere, this expression was uttered by someone that is closely acquainted with the legal milieu of Çağlayan; when I heard it I did not object to it” Yücel said.
Osman Kavala ve diğerleri hakkındaki “Gezi iddianamesini” ve benzeri iddianameleri düzenleyen adamlar, sadece savcı kılıfında gözü dönmüş militanlar değiller. Aynı zamanda şeyler. Yani baya baya şeyler. Bakınız: pic.twitter.com/63QXap2AYB
— Deniz Yücel (@Besser_Deniz) February 20, 2019
The journalist also argued that the expression “stupid,” which was used to define Yılmaz by third parties, is not libelous according to its definition by the Turkish Linguistic Society (TDK). Noting that the indictment prepared by Yılmaz against himself degraded the law and judiciary, Yücel added this was affirmed by the Constitutional Court ruling as per his individual application. The Constitutional Court had found Yücel’s 1-year imprisonment violated his rights to personal security and freedom of expression.
“Yılmaz proved he is a practical apparatus of the government”
“Hasan Yılmaz has proved he is a practical apparatus of the government with the indictments he prepared against me and Osman Kavala,” said Yücel in his statement.
Yılmaz was the author of the indictment accusing businessperson Osman Kavala, who remains imprisoned for over three years, of political espionage claiming he had plotted the July 15 coup attempt. Yılmaz was appointed as the Deputy Justice Minister on October 16, 2020, one week after the indictment he drafted against Kavala was accepted by the court.
Yücel presented the indictments prepared by Yılmaz against himself and Kavala, as evidence for his defense statement.
The indictment, which was prepared by Public Prosecutor Celal Sarıdere, requests Yücel’s punishment per Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code and presents an open source research report and the March 7, 2019-dated response of the Border Gates Bureau Directorship as evidence for crime. The then-İstanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz is designated as the injured party in the case.
Initiation of new cases following Yücel’s release
The most recent lawsuit against Yücel was filed on May 12, 2021, where he is accused of “degrading the Turkish Nation and the state of the Turkish Republic” and faces imprisonment for up to 2 years.
Yücel was taken into police custody on February 14, 2017 on charges of “terror propaganda” and “inciting the public to hatred and hostility;” and arrested by a court on February 27, 2017.
Yücel, who remained behind bars for almost 1 year, was accused of “propaganda for the terrorist organization PKK,” and “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” by the prosecution and faced imprisonment for up to 18 years. Accepting the indictment, İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court had ruled for the release of Yücel on February 16, 2018.
Yücel’s imprisonment caused tension between Turkey and Germany, and he was released as a result of Germany’s diplomatic attempts.
He was acquitted of “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” and “making propaganda for terrorist organization FETÖ/PDY,” whereas sentenced to 2 years 9 months and 22 days in prison for “making terror propaganda for the PKK.”