Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel sentenced in absentia in terrorism case

An Istanbul court on Thursday sentenced Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel, in absentia, to two years and nine months in jail on charges of spreading propaganda for the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), his lawyer Veysel Ok told journalists.

The jail sentence is precisely two years, nine months and 22 days, according to a court document viewed by the press.

The decision can be appealed within seven days. Prosecutors had sought up to 16 years in jail for Yucel, citing as evidence an interview he conducted with PKK commander Cemil Bayik. The PKK is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

Last June, Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled in a unanimous decision that his year-long pre-trial detention was unlawful, citing violation of Yucel's rights.


"Today, the court has ignored the Constitutional Court. They ignored our defence and the laws," Ok said following the verdict, adding that he would be appealing against the decision. Yucel was acquitted of the charge of inciting hatred and propaganda for U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in 2016.

The court decided to file two separate criminal lawsuits against Yucel at the Istanbul chief prosecutor's office for insulting the president and the Turkish state. It cited a 2016 article by Yucel which featured a Turkish flag and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's picture and a headline "putschist".

A second criminal complaint was filed for insulting the state over Yucel's defence statements, the court said.

On Thursday, only a limited number of observers were allowed into the court room due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Yucel's case, along with incarceration of several other German nationals in Turkey, has raised tensions between Ankara and Berlin.

Yucel was released in February 2018 and returned to Germany after spending a year in Istanbul's maximum-security Silivri prison without being officially charged. The release followed a long political tug of war between Turkey and Germany.

In May last year, Yucel told a Berlin court that Turkish officers tortured him during his solitary confinement in prison, a charge which Ankara denies.    (dpa)