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Arrested Die Welt Journalist Faces 5 Years in Turkish Prison for Terrorism

© AP Photo / Karlheinz SchindlerDeniz Yücel, a German journalist with Die Welt.
Deniz Yücel, a German journalist with Die Welt. - Sputnik International
A German newspaper reported on Friday that one of their correspondents was arrested by Turkish police and accused of membership in a terrorist organization. The correspondent was reporting on leaked emails from the Turkish Energy Minister.

Deniz Yücel, a 43-year-old dual citizen of both Turkey and Germany, is a reporter for German daily Die Welt. He was in Turkey reporting on emails leaked to the public by Marxist-Leninist hacker collective RedHack. The hackers had uncovered emails from Berat Albayrak, the Energy Minister, and son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The leaked emails allegedly detail Albayrak's involvement in influencing public opinion through fake Twitter accounts and his control of Turkish media companies, as well as "involvement in organizations such as Powertrans, the company implicated in [Daesh] oil imports."

Yücel was called into police offices in Istanbul to face questioning. Turkish police accused him of collaborating with Redhack, disseminating terrorist propaganda, and misuse of data. Hasan Yilmaz, the prosecutor conducting the investigation into Yücel, accused him of "manipulating information received from leaked emails of Albayrak and discrediting the government." If convicted, Yücel could face five years in prison.

Turkey considers Redhack a terrorist group, although, as a non-violent hacker collective, they do not fit the definition of the phrase by the reckoning of most countries.

Turkish anti riot police officers detain a Turkish soldier who allegedly took part in a military coup as they are leaving in a bus the courthouse at Bakirkoy district in Istanbul on July 16, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Die Welt editor-in-chief Ulf Poschardt said in a statement that Yücel "does excellent work" and that "the Turkish government has repeatedly noted that Turkey is a state governed by the rule of law. This is why we believe that a fair process will result in him being declared innocent."

Yücel's arrest is political in nature, said the German Federation of Journalists. They have called on Berlin to intercede on his behalf.

The German Foreign Ministry said that Yücel has been in custody since Tuesday. "We hope the ongoing investigation by Turkish authorities against Mr. Yucel respects the rule of law and he is treated fairly, in particular with regard to the press freedom that's guaranteed by the Turkish constitution," the ministry wrote in a statement. "Of course we are doing everything we can to support Deniz Yücel."

The nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists reported that Turkey arrested more journalists in 2016 than any other nation. At least 81 were imprisoned, many of them after the failed July 2016 coup attempt. 

A soldier protects himself from the mob after troops involved in the coup attempt surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey July 16, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The European Federation of Journalists claims that there are about 120 media workers imprisoned by the Turkish government. Ankara insists that they have not imprisoned anyone for writing news articles.

Yücel is one of seven journalists arrested in connection with the RedHack leak since December 2016, but he is the only one who does not work for a Turkish outlet. According to German outlet Die Tageszeitung, Yücel was jailed by Turkish authorities in 2015 for making comments critical of a local official.

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