PARIS — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is “afraid … because he knows what is in store if he loses power,” said German journalist Deniz Yücel in his first interview from jail in Turkey.
Yücel, who has been detained by the Turkish police for alleged “terrorist propaganda” and “inciting hatred” since February, told German daily Die Tageszeitung that Erdoğan’s crackdown against journalists would go down in history as “a disgrace.” He added that he did not know why he was detained, insisting he had done his job as a reporter “properly.”
The case is a source of diplomatic tension between Berlin and Ankara. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in February that Yücel’s detention was “bitter and disappointing” and “disproportionately hard.” The 44-year-old Die Welt correspondent holds both a Turkish and a German passport and has been called “a terrorist agent” and a “German spy” by Erdoğan.
Yücel said in the interview conducted through his lawyers that he is being held in solitary confinement. “Isolation is torture,” he said. “Even though I am holding up well, I cannot predict what long-term consequence this is going to have.”
The reporter has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against a decision by Turkish judges to keep him in detention. After several delays, the court has set a deadline of November 28 for Turkey to present its response.