Foreign Minister Gabriel on the Deniz Yücel case

28.02.2017 - Press release

Foreign Minister Gabriel commented as follows today (28 February):

Deniz Yücel turned himself in to the Turkish authorities in Istanbul almost exactly two weeks ago.

Deniz Yücel did not run away. He was and remains willing to answer the questions put to him in the investigation.

For almost two weeks, nothing at all happened. He was not interviewed. No attempts were made to investigate. And then, yesterday, a Turkish judge ordered that Deniz Yücel be detained for an indefinite period.

In the light of our firmly held convictions, this decision is not just disappointing, but unnecessary and disproportionate.

Working journalists enjoy constitutional protection in the form of freedom of the press and freedom of opinion not just in Germany, but also in Turkey.

In all measures taken by the state, especially in the context of criminal justice, freedom of the press and freedom of opinion are precious commodities that must be taken into consideration. The criminal justice system must not be misused against journalists in any country that claims to be a democracy and to uphold human rights.

It is important for the Turkish Government to be aware of our position, and not just from newspaper or TV reports, but through direct talks. This is not just our conviction. It is a precept shared by Europe as a whole. That is why, at my request, State Secretary Walter Lindner today asked the Turkish Ambassador to come to us here in the Federal Foreign Office for talks an hour ago, in order to communicate this clear position face to face.

In the course of this conversation we clearly stated our position, and particularly stressed the following three points.

1. The treatment of Deniz Yücel clearly highlights the fact that in our two countries significant differences exist when it comes to applying rule of law principles and how we regard freedom of the press and freedom of opinion. The outpouring of solidarity for Deniz Yücel is an expression of fundamental values and deeply held convictions.

2. It has to be clear to Turkey that these are by no means easy times for German-Turkish relations, and that the Deniz Yücel case is now making everything much harder yet. I want to say more here, speaking personally. In these difficult times there are people who insist on fuelling confrontation, but there are also many people, in Germany and in Turkey, who are endeavouring to ensure that reason prevails in our relations. They know there are differences between the two countries, they are aware of the dangers posed by current developments, but they also know that we are neighbours, and that we will not be able to alter that fact. The latest development in the Deniz Yücel case makes matters infinitely more difficult for all those who call for rational conduct, for all those who endeavour to tread the path of understanding in spite of all the difficulties. It is a development that snubs well-meaning individuals on both sides and makes work on a rational relationship extraordinarily difficult.

3. We insisted that we should now have full consular access to Deniz Yücel, so that German consular officers will be able to afford him the best possible assistance during his imprisonment in Istanbul.

The German Government as a whole, and myself personally, are doing our utmost to ensure that Deniz Yücel is released as soon as possible and that a solution is found which is good for Deniz Yücel, for freedom of the press and freedom of opinion, and for German-Turkish relations. Our relations are now facing one of their greatest tests of the present age.

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