İstanbul – Final hearing of the trial where German newspaper Die Welt’s former Turkey representative Deniz Yücel faces “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” and “making terror propaganda” charges was held in Istanbul today. Yücel had been imprisoned for nearly a year before being released pending trial as part of this investigation.
At the end of two years, the court acquitted journalist Yücel of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” and sentenced him to 2 years 9 months and 22 days in prison for “making terrorist propaganda” charges.
The ninth hearing of the trial was held at Istanbul 32nd High Criminal Court this afternoon. A limited number of observers and journalists were allowed in the courtroom as part of the COVID-19 precautionary measures. Officials from the German Consulate and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu were among those monitoring the hearing. Journalist Deniz Yücel, who lives in Germany, did not attend the hearing. His lawyer Veysel Ok was present in the courtroom.
The prosecutor repeated their final opinion as to the accusations and demanded Deniz Yücel to be punished per “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” and “making terrorist propaganda” charges. Lawyer Ok, who presented his final defense statement last month, repeated that the Constitutional Court judgement must be taken into consideration and requested Yücel’s acquittal of all charges.
Following a short recess, the court announced its verdict and acquitted Yücel of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” charges but sentenced him to 2 years 9 months and 22 days for “making terrorist propaganda” on behalf of pro-Kurdish PKK/KCK.
The court also ruled to file additional lawsuits against journalist Deniz Yücel for “insulting the President” and “publicly degrading the Turkish Nation, State of the Turkish Republic, the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the judicial bodies” charges based on two separate articles he penned for Die Welt in late 2016.
Constitutional Court had ruled that Yücel’s freedom of expression was violated
In May 28, 2019 Turkish Constitutional Court had ruled that Die Welt Turkey correspondent Deniz Yücel’s year-long detention had violated his right to personal security and liberty, as well as his right to freedom of expression.
This decision of Turkey’s top court confirmed that interviewing an organization’s leader or criticizing Erdoğan cannot be grounds for prosecution, further stating that interviewing Cemil Bayık and asking questions about the nature of the coup attempt can’t constitute a crime in any way.
The Court had stated that they were not convinced by the allegations that journalist Yücel seemed to be approving of the interviewee’s opinions and that he asked questions in a way that would lead to terrorist propaganda.
The ruling insisted that articles that were presented as evidence in Yücel’s arrest warrant should be evaluated as political criticism, which are thus protected under freedom of expression, stating that these articles cannot be used as strong evidence of a committed crime.