February 15, 2018 / 5:45 PM / 9 days ago

Germany wants fast judicial process for journalist held in Turkey

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany wants a fast and fair judicial process that secures the release of a German-Turkish journalist jailed in Turkey a year ago that is weighing on relations between the two NATO allies, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

Deniz Yucel, a reporter for German daily Die Welt, was jailed on suspicion of spreading propaganda in support of a terrorist organisation and inciting violence. He denies the accusations and no indictment has been made.

“I said during the talks that we hope for a fast and constitutional (judicial) process for Deniz Yucel,” said Merkel during a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim after talks in Berlin.

Yildirim on Wednesday raised the prospect that Yucel could soon be freed, something that would remove what Germany considers a major impediment to normalised relations between the two countries. On Thursday, he only said that he hoped the case would soon come to court.

While relations with Turkey have deteriorated sharply since Ankara’s crackdown on suspected supporters of a failed coup in 2016, Yucel’s case has become the focus of particular attention for Germany.

Turkey says its security crackdown since the coup attempt – with the arrest of some 50,000 people - is needed for security reasons. It has criticised Germany for not handing over asylum seekers it accuses of involvement in the failed coup.

In January, Turkey urged Germany, its biggest trading partner and NATO ally, to mend fences and they have since resumed bilateral government consultations that were suspended after Yucel’s arrest.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Emma Thomasson and Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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