German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has accused the Turkish government of failing to keep a promise to grant consular access to imprisoned German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who was arrested in Turkey on Feb. 27 as part of an investigation for publishing stories on the leaked emails of the Turkish energy minister.
Speaking with Der Spiegel on Friday, Gabriel said Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım promised that German diplomats would be granted access to Yücel but also said that this has failed to materialize thus far.
“It would be disappointing if we could not rely on the word of the Turkish prime minister,” Gabriel said.
According to Der Spiegel, Yıldırım had promised consular access in a telephone call with Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 4. Gabriel also spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who assured him he would work for the desired access.
Expressing doubts about the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Turkey, Gabriel referred to statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Yücel was a terrorist and a spy.
“If Turkey is really a state of law, as Mr. Erdoğan claims, I wonder how he can know before the start of court proceedings and say that Deniz Yücel is a terrorist and a spy,” he added.
Addressing people during a meeting in İstanbul on March 5, Erdoğan had said: “Chancellor [Merkel] told me when she came here… She said, ‘You have a detained journalist [Deniz Yücel]. We would be happy if you release him.’ I told her: ‘He is not a journalist, he is a terrorist.”
While calling Yücel a “German agent” and a “representative of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK],” Erdoğan also repeated his claims that Yücel had been hiding in the German Consulate General in İstanbul for a month.
Nationwide protests took place in Germany and other European countries after Yücel’s arrest, with demands made for his immediate release.