Life In Berlin: Journalist Deniz Yücel's Detainment Causes Uproar

Mar 1, 2017

Cem Ödzemir, co-leader of Germany's Green Party is addressing hundreds of protesters in front of the Turkish embassy in Berlin. The case of Deniz Yücel, who was detained by Turkish authorities on February 14th, has outraged many politicians and journalists.

Yücel, has both German and Turkish citizenship and is a correspondent for the newspaper Die Welt. He was arrested after he had reported on the hacked email account of Turkey's energy minister, son in law of President Erdogan. Özcan Mutlu, Green Party member in the German Bundestag, initiated the rally in Berlin.

"The democracy in Turkey is endangered. Press freedom, separation of powers,and independent judiciary is not present anymore; that's why we are here." Mutlu tells me.

Protesters gather outside the Turkish Embassy to demand the release of German journalist Deniz Yucel on February 28, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
Credit Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The gathering in Berlin was one of multiple “FreeDeniz” demonstrations across Germany and Austria. Yücel has been charged with spreading terrorist propaganda and inciting hatred.

Protesters are calling for his immediate release. Özcan Mutlu just recently went to Turkey to visit the journalist.

"Our embassy in Ankara asked for the permission to visit him. Unfortunately the Turkish officials, they didn't react at all." says Mutlu.

Yücel is the first German journalist to be arrested since Erdogan's clamp down on the media following last summers failed coup attempt in Turkey. It’s causing an immense strain on German-Turkish relationships.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticized Yücel's arrest as "bitter and disappointing." Green party politician Mutlu is very critical of Merkel’s lack of action.

"Angela Merkel somehow is believing she depends on Ankara because of the refugee issue. And therefore she is not critical towards Turkey at all," Mutlu explains. 

"She was in Turkey five times in the last 12 months,and until her last visit she didn't raise up the questions of human rights violence, separation of power etc. and now we are paying the price that she was so soft."

Prominent cultural figures were among the demonstrators. Shermin Langhoff, artistic director of the Maxim Gorki Theatre, came to add her voice to the demand for freedom of expression in Turkey. Langhoff was born in Turkey and points out the challenging situation for Berliners of Turkish decent.

"How can we deal with this country in this situation? How far do we want to go? How shall we declare these dissonances between what we tell to our children here and that what we do, how shall we have democracy here living with these dissonances?" Langhoff questions.

The case of Deniz Yücel has raised a lot of questions which have yet to be answered.