Germany urges Turkey to free journalist in 'big test' for ties

Germany urges Turkey to free journalist in 'big test' for ties


German Minister of State Michael Roth speaks to the media in Istanbul, Tuesday, April 4, 2017 (Photo by AP).

Germany’s Minister of State Michael Roth has called for the release of a German-Turkish journalist detained in Turkey, saying the case signifies a litmus test for Berlin-Ankara ties.

Speaking to reporters after visiting German consulate officials in Istanbul on Tuesday, Roth said that Deniz Yucel “is doing well. What remains a burden for him is the solitary confinement.”

He thanked Turkish authorities for allowing consular officials to meet Yucel after several weeks, but noted, “This cannot be the end for us. We are still pushing for the release of Deniz Yucel.”

“This is one of the big tests of German-Turkish relations, and I can only hope that we come to a satisfactory solution soon,” Roth said.

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Yucel, who works for German national daily newspaper Die Welt, was detained in Istanbul in mid-February on charges of propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting public violence.

Yucel, who faces up to 10-1/2 years in prison if convicted, denies the charges.

Roth stressed Germany’s resolve to restore its relations with Turkey to one marked by trust and cooperation, adding, “At the moment we are going through a stormy period but we are not going to be deterred from talking and keeping up ties.”

This photo taken on July 21, 2016 shows Deniz Yucel, the Turkish correspondent of German newspaper Die Welt, during a TV show in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by AFP)

Relations between Turkey and Germany have been further strained, after Berlin placed bans on planned rallies by Turkish ministers in Germany to garner support for a ‘Yes’ vote to an April 16 referendum on a constitutional reform bill which significantly extends Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

Turkey accuses several EU nations, including Germany and the Netherlands, of permitting ‘No’ supporters to campaign in their countries, but blocking rallies organized by ‘Yes’ supporters.

The German government has been a vocal critic of Erdogan’s massive crackdown on those believed to have played a role in a coup attempt in Turkey in July last year. More than 40,000 have been arrested and over 110,000 have been discharged from their jobs in the crackdown. Germany says Turkey has acted beyond the rule of law.


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