BERLIN, March 1 A German-Turkish journalist
whose arrest in Turkey has badly jolted relations between Ankara
and Berlin was quoted on Wednesday as saying the conditions of
his detention had improved markedly since his transfer to prison
from a police cell.
Deniz Yucel, who holds both German and Turkish citizenship,
was arrested on Monday on charges of propaganda in support of a
terrorist organisation and inciting public violence, after first
being detained on Feb. 14.
Yucel, who faces up to 10-1/2 years in jail if convicted,
denies the charges.
The arrest has provoked sharp rebukes from German Chancellor
Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who told
reporters that German-Turkish relations were facing one of their
greatest challenges of recent times.
Commenting on his transfer to a prison in a handwritten note
to friends and supporters published by his newspaper Die Welt,
Deniz said: "It may sound strange, but I feel as though I've won
back a little bit of my freedom: Daylight! Fresh air! Real food!
Tea and Nescafe! Smoking! Newspapers! A real bed!"
Yucel is the first German journalist held in a widespread
crackdown in Turkey following a failed coup last July that has
often targeted the media.
He said his transfer to a real prison also meant he had
access to a toilet whenever it was needed, and added that he
shared a kitchen and courtyard with a handful of other political
"Even though they have stolen my freedom, the investigation
and the court opinions continue to make me laugh," Yucel wrote.
Yucel wrote his note when his lawyers visited him in
Istanbul's Metris prison. He has since been moved to Silivri
prison, which has similar conditions, Die Welt said.
Yucel plans to appeal against his arrest, lawyer Veysel Ok
The German government is demanding Yucel's swift release and
wants consular access to him and five other German citizens
detained in Germany since the failed July 15 coup, government
spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
"We expect that he will be released as soon as possible,"
Seibert told a regular government news conference on Wednesday.
Separately on Wednesday the German foreign ministry
confirmed that Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag would speak
at an event in Germany on Thursday. This could provide an
opportunity for direct talks on Yucel's fate.
The German newspaper Badische Neueste Nachrichten reported
that Bozdag would come to rally support among Germany's
estimated 1.5 million ethnic Turkish population for an April
referendum on expanding the powers of President Tayyip Erdogan.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Berlin and Ece Toksabay in
Ankara; Editing by Gareth Jones)