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German reporter held in Turkey to be freed pending trial

Deniz Yucel could still face up to 18 years in prison if convicted, reports say.

A German journalist detained in Turkey for a year is being released from jail pending trial, German officials and his lawyer have said.

But Deniz Yucel, a correspondent for German daily Die Welt, could still face up to 18 years in prison if convicted, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

“Finally, a decision has been made to free my client Deniz Yucel,” his lawyer Veysal Ok said.

Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel also welcomed the decision: “I expressly thank the Turkish government for its support in accelerating the legal proceedings.”

Mr Yucel, who has German and Turkish citizenship, was arrested in Istanbul on February 14 last year on terrorism and propaganda charges which he denies.

His high-profile case and that of six other German citizens held in Turkey for what Germany considers political reasons have badly soured relations between the two countries.

Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu reported that a court ruled Mr Yucel should be set free pending trial, after approving a prosecutor’s indictment seeking up to 18 years in prison.

A protest in front of the Turkish embassy in Berlin (AP/Markus Schreiber)

The private Dogan news agency reported prosecutors were charging him with “engaging in terrorist propaganda” and “inciting public hatred and enmity”, seeking a minimum of four years.

Mr Gabriel said he has met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan twice over the past year.

The issue also came up at a meeting on Thursday between Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Yildirim said he hoped a court hearing for the 44-year-old would “take place in a short period of time”.

Angela Merkel welcomes Binali Yildirim in Berlin (AP)

Mrs Merkel’s spokeswoman, Ulrike Demmer, declined to say whether an agreement was struck during Mr Yildirim’s visit to Berlin. “This is a first, important step that we have all worked on for a long time,” she said.

German officials rejected suggestions that Mr Yucel’s release might have come about as a result of an arms deal between Germany and Turkey.

“There can be no talk of any dirty deals or side agreements,” Rainer Breul, a spokesman for Germany’s foreign ministry, told reporters in Berlin.

Press Association

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