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The ECHR condemns Turkey for the illegal detention of a journalist

The case had poisoned relations between Berlin and Ankara. Turkey, which had imprisoned the former correspondent of the German daily in 2017 and 2018 Die Welt, Deniz Yücel, was sentenced by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday 25 January. The Pan-European Court found that Ankara had violated its “right to liberty and security”, “his right to compensation in the event of unlawful detention” and « his freedom of expression », she explained in a press release. Turkey will have to pay him 13,300 euros in compensation.

The German-Turkish journalist, who covered the widespread repression for the conservative German newspaper after the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016 against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “was remanded in custody and kept there in the absence of plausible grounds to suspect him of having committed a criminal offence”, says the Court.

« Deprivation of Liberty » of the 48-year-old journalist « analyzes [comme] an “interference” in the exercise by the latter of his right to freedom of expression”, continues the Pan-European Court. This one reminds “that the pre-trial detention of critical voices creates multiple negative effects, both for the person detained and for society as a whole”. Because “inflicting a measure resulting in the deprivation of liberty (…) inevitably has a chilling effect on freedom of expression by intimidating civil society and silencing dissenting voices”, again raised the judicial arm of the Council of Europe.

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Sentenced for « terrorist propaganda »

The arrest in February 2017 of Deniz Yücel had raised a wave of indignation and mobilization in Germany and poisoned relations between Berlin and Ankara, two countries linked in particular by the presence of three million Turks in Germany.

Finally released in February 2018, Deniz Yücel had been authorized to leave Turkey for Germany, leading to a thaw in relations between the two countries.

In May 2019, the Turkish Constitutional Court ruled that he had suffered a violation of his right to liberty and security as well as his right to freedom of expression and of the press. But in July 2020, an Istanbul court sentenced him in absentia to two years, nine months and 22 days in prison for « terrorist propaganda » on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), branded as a group « terrorist » by Ankara and its Western allies, after a trial that had sparked new diplomatic tensions between Turkey and Germany.

Turkey is in the 153and place in the world press freedom index of the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders.

In November, the ECHR had already condemned Turkey for the pretrial detention « arbitrary » of 427 magistrates, five years after the massive purge in the administration, the army and Turkish intellectual circles which followed the failed coup.

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