An Istanbul court today issued a warrant for the arrest of Deniz Yücel, co-speaker of PEN Berlin. The scandal of this trial on charges of »denigrating the Turkish state and nation« and »insulting the president« lies not only in its procedural irregularities, but in the fact that it was opened at all.
Both the Turkish Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights have ruled that Yücel’s earlier one-year pre-trial detention was unlawful because all the comments, reports and interviews he published in the German newspaper Die Welt, which were cited as evidence for the earlier charges of »propaganda for a front organization«, are indeed covered by freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
In a state governed by the rule of law, Deniz Yücel would not have been charged for lawfully exercising these freedoms. In a state that follows even its own laws, he should have been immediately acquitted under the Supreme Court rulings in question. Instead, he was sentenced in absentia to nearly three years in prison. The new trial has now begun, and the new arrest warrant has been issued on the basis of the same newspaper articles that were deemed legal in the last instance.
PEN Berlin calls for the immediate dismissal of the proceedings against its co-spokesperson. Our thoughts also go out to our Turkish colleagues constantly threatened by a judiciary that is being used as a political tool by the Erdogan regime.
PEN Berlin. We stand by our word.