Freed German-Turkish journalist says Ankara held him ‘hostage’

German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel is pictured in front of his home after he was released from prison in Istanbul, Turkey, Feb. 16, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 17 February 2018

Freed German-Turkish journalist says Ankara held him ‘hostage’

BERLIN: A German-Turkish journalist who was freed in Turkey after spending more than a year in jail without trial said he was held “hostage” by Ankara and that other journalists are still stuck in Turkish prisons just “for doing their job.”
Deniz Yucel, 44, the Turkey-based correspondent of Die Welt newspaper, landed in Berlin on Friday night hours after being released from a high security prison in Istanbul.
In a video posted on social media during the night Yucel said: “The funny thing is that I still do not know why I was jailed for a year, why I was held hostage for a year.”
Yucel, who has both German and Turkish citizenship, had been accused of writing propaganda in support of terrorism.
He is among more than 100 journalists and writers to be detained in Turkey since the failed July 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On Friday, prosecutors presented an indictment seeking up to 18 years in jail for Yucel on charges of “making terror propaganda” and “inciting public hatred and hostility,” but he left the country.
In the video, Yucel also highlighted the plight of other journalists jailed in Turkey, saying they had “done nothing but their job.”
On Friday, an Istanbul court also jailed three prominent Turkish journalists for life on charges of links to the group blamed for the failed coup.
Amnesty International said their sentencing had “drained the joy from celebrations” over Yucel’s release.
“I do not know why I was released today,” said Yucel in the video. “Of course I rejoice (my freedom) but there is a bitter aftertaste.”
Yucel’s surprise release may help repair severely-eroded ties between Ankara and Berlin.
However a number of German citizens or dual nationals — who are seen by Berlin as political hostages — remain in Turkish prisons, among the more than 55,000 people arrested since the failed coup.


Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

Updated 20 October 2020

Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

  • Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation
  • Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters

BANGKOK: A Thai court on Tuesday ordered the suspension of an online TV station critical of the government, which has accused it of violating emergency measures aimed at ending three months of protests.
Voice TV had also been found to have breached the Computer Crime Act by uploading “false information,” digital ministry spokesman Putchapong Nodthaisong told reporters.
Thailand has drawn criticism from rights groups for banning demonstrations and the publication of news seen as damaging by the government as it tries to end the protests against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the powerful monarchy.
Rittikorn Mahakhachabhorn, Editor-in-Chief of Voice TV, said it would continue broadcasting until the court order arrived.
“We insist that we have been operating based on journalistic principles and we will continue our work presently,” he said.
Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation.
Voice TV is owned in part by the Shinawatra family of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, who was overthrown by Prayuth in a 2014 coup. Both fled Thailand to escape corruption cases they branded political.
Street protests since mid-July are the biggest challenge in decades to the monarchy under King Maha Vajiralongkorn and to Prayuth, who rejects accusations of engineering an election last year to keep power.
The demonstrations have been largely led by youths and students in contrast with a decade of street violence between supporters of Thaksin and conservative royalists before Prayuth seized power.
Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters, including many of the main leaders.
A lawyer for two of them, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, said they would be arrested again on Tuesday as soon as they had been freed on bail granted by a court over earlier charges related to the protests.
Prime Minister Prayuth has said he will not quit in the face of the protests.
His cabinet agreed on Tuesday to hold an emergency session of parliament next week about the crisis. Prayuth’s supporters hold a majority in the parliament, whose upper house was named entirely by his former junta.