Skip to main content

Turkey sentences Germany-based journalist to prison in absentia

Deniz Yucel was convicted of "incitement to hatred" and spreading "terror propaganda."
BAD HERSFELD, GERMANY - JULY 05: Deniz Yuecel speaks during the opening of the 69. Bad Hersfelder Festspiele 2019 at Stiftsruine on July 05, 2019 in Bad Hersfeld, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

An Istanbul court has sentenced a prominent Turkish-German journalist to nearly three years in prison in absentia in a trial that has further heightened tensions between two NATO partners. 

Deniz Yucel, 46, was convicted of “incitement to hatred" and spreading "terrorist propaganda" through the articles he wrote about the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party as a Turkey-based correspondent for Germany's Die Welt newspaper.

Yucel, who denies all the charges, did not attend the trial, and his lawyer says Yucel will appeal the court’s sentence of two years, nine months and 22 days in prison. 

Yucel has lived in Berlin since his release from Turkish custody in February 2018 after a year spent in pretrial detention, including solitary confinement. 

Turkish authorities have also accused Yucel of connections to Pennsylvania-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the 2016 coup attempt. The court ruled Thursday that he was not guilty of spreading propaganda for Gulen’s network. 

Separately, the Istanbul court filed two new criminal charges against the journalist for “insulting” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The president has routinely described Yucel as a “terrorist agent" and “German spy.”

In an article for Die Welt headlined "I regret nothing," Yucel wrote that he was arrested for simply doing his job. The ruling, he said, “shows once again what the rule of law is in this country: pathetic.”

Relations between Ankara and Berlin have soured over Turkey’s detention of a number of German citizens rounded up after the failed coup. In January, Germany’s Foreign Ministry announced 59 of its citizens were held in Turkish prisons and an additional 74 were barred from leaving the country pending investigation. 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the conviction sent the "absolutely wrong signal” and called for the release of the remaining German nationals. 

“As long as that is not the case, this stands against a normalization of Turkey’s relationship with us and the European Union as a whole,” Germany’s top diplomat tweeted.

Turkey has arrested tens of thousands of people in recent years for alleged ties to terrorist groups, including the Kurdish rebels and the Gulen movement. The country is also considered one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Turkey Briefing Turkey Briefing

Turkey Briefing

Top Turkey stories in your inbox each week

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial