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RIGHTS >Arrested journalist Deniz Yücel says his detention conditions in Turkey have improved

BERLIN - Reuters

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A German-Turkish journalist whose arrest in Turkey has jolted relations between Ankara and Berlin was quoted on March 1 as saying the conditions of his detention had improved markedly since his transfer to prison from a police cell.

Deniz Yücel, who holds both German and Turkish citizenship, was arrested on Feb. 27 on charges of propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting public violence, after first being detained on Feb. 14.

Yücel, who faces up to 10-and-half years in jail if convicted, denies the charges.

“It may sound strange, but I feel as though I’ve won back a little bit of my freedom: Daylight! Fresh air! Real food! Tea and Nescafe! Smoking! Newspapers! A real bed,” Yücel said in a handwritten note to friends and supporters published by his newspaper Die Welt. 

“Even though they have stolen my freedom, the investigation and the court opinions continue to make me laugh,” he added.

His arrest provoked sharp rebukes from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who told reporters that German-Turkish relations were facing one of their greatest challenges in recent times.

Merkel told members of her Christian Democratic Union at a rally in northern Germany that her government would “do everything in its power” to secure Yücel’s release. Independent journalism is a basic pillar of democracy that can “never be questioned, even when it is uncomfortable,” she said.

Yücel wrote his note when his lawyers visited him in Istanbul’s Metris prison. He has since been moved to Istanbul’s Silivri prison, which has similar conditions, Die Welt said.

Yücel plans to appeal against his arrest, lawyer Veysel Ok has said, as reported by Reuters. 

The German government is demanding Yücel’s swift release and wants consular access to him and five other German citizens detained in Turkey since the failed July 2016 failed coup attempt, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

March/02/2017

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