Case Monitoring

PEN Germany’s President and journalist Deniz Yücel’s trial is adjourned until September

MURAT KÖK*

The third hearing of the trial where PEN Germany’s President and Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel whom MLSA represents in court, faces “degrading the Turkish Nation, State of the Turkish Republic, Turkish Grand National Assembly, the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the judicial bodies of the State” and “insulting the President” charges was held in the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Deciding to wait for the return of the rogatory letters issued to Germany for Yücel’s statement to be taken, the court adjourned the trial until September 29, 2022.

The trial, which was initiated after the İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court filed a criminal complaint against Yücel because of his 2016 articles published in Die Welt, continued today in the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

Yücel, who lives abroad, did not attend the hearing. Yücel’s attorney Erselan Aktan took the floor first and reminded the court of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (EcTHR) in similar cases including the Vedat Şorli v. Turkey judgment and argued: “Your court has the power to acquit my client here and now without waiting for his statement. Considering the ECtHR’s judgments, I request that Yücel be acquitted of the charges.” 

Taking the floor after attorney Aktan, the prosecutor requested that the case file be completed.

Announcing its decision without a break, the court decided to wait for the rogatory letters and adjourned the trial.

Case background

On July 16, 2020, Yücel was acquitted of “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” while being sentenced to 2 years and 9 months in prison for “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” 

Alongside the verdict, the Istanbul 32nd High Criminal Court had ruled to file additional lawsuits against journalist Deniz Yücel for “insulting the President” [Art. 299 of the Turkish Penal Code] and “publicly degrading the Turkish Nation, State of the Turkish Republic, the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the judicial bodies” [Art. 301 of the Turkish Penal Code] charges based on three separate articles he penned for Die Welt in late 2016. An article that included an anecdotal story with the punchline “don’t let the Kurd see their mother before they die” and another including the phrase “genocide committed against Armenians” were considered to be sufficient to file a criminal complaint pursuant to Article 301, which turned into a lawsuit was in April.

The indictment, which was accepted by the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, noted that the court that had tried Yücel filed a criminal complaint on September 11, 2020 and that the Ministry of Justice granted the permission to prosecute journalist Yücel per Article 301 on March 11, 2021.  The prosecution requests up to two years imprisonment for Yücel. At the second hearing on November 25, 2021, the court decided to issue a writ for rogatory letters so that the statement of Yücel can be taken. 

*This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. The work may be used and redistributed for non-commercial purposes with proper attribution to MLSA.