Journalist Deniz Yücel submits defense in 'insulting prosecutor' case

Turkish authorities accuse Deniz Yücel, a former Turkey correspondent for newspaper Die Welt, of describing former Istanbul deputy chief public prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz as “the stupidest prosecutor” of Çağlayan courthouse in a 2019 tweet. In his written defense submitted from Germany, Yücel said that the description does not belong to him, but that he had no objections to it.

Duvar English

German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel has submitted his defense in a fresh investigation launched against him over charges of “insulting a public official” stemming from a tweet he posted on Feb. 20, 2019.

The concerned tweet is about the then-Istanbul deputy chief public prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz, who was promoted to the post of deputy justice minister last year.

Yılmaz was the prosecutor who indicted Yücel on “terror propaganda” charges in 2018 over his articles published in Deutsche Welle. Yılmaz was also the prosecutor leading the investigation on activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala.

The fresh indictment against Yücel accuses the journalist of describing Yılmaz as “the stupidest prosecutor” of the Çağlayan courthouse.

In his written defense sent from Germany to the Istanbul 24th Criminal Court of First Instance, Yücel said that the expression of the “stupidest prosecutor at Çağlayan” does not belong to him, but instead someone who was familiar with the legal processes at the courthouse.

“I would like to recall that the expression of 'the stupidest prosecutor at Çağlayan' for which Hasan Yılmaz has filed a complaint does not belong to me. As I said in my Twitter post and other places, I heard this description from someone who knows the Çağlayan judiciary world very well, and I have not objected to it when I heard it,” Yücel said.

In his concerned tweet, Yücel had said that this expression was used by a former police officer that he met in the Silivri Prison and he did not object to it when he heard it.

“When a former police chief who knew of Hasan Yılmaz and was incarcerated in the Silivri Prison for membership in the Gülen movement, told me that 'he is the stupidest prosecutor at Çağlayan courthouse' during a conversation we had, I could not object to it,” Yücel had said in his tweet.

In his defense, Yücel refuted that his tweet was insulting, basing his argument on the Turkish Language Association's definition of the word “stupid.”

“It is necessary to emphasize that the word 'stupid' is not an insult. The Turkish Language Association defines the word 'stupid' as 'someone who is understood to be lowbred, unbalanced and naive.' The Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights have also confirmed that Hasan Yılmaz has insulted the law and judiciary through his works and that indictments prepared by him are very worthless and unbalanced, by tearing apart these indictments several times,” Yücel said.

The journalist also said that Yılmaz has “proven to be a very useful tool of the government” through the indictments he prepared which he referred to as being “idiotic” and “nonsensical.”

The journalist said that it was not surprising for Yılmaz to launch an “insult case” against him because the Turkish rulership loves to also play the role of the “victim.”

“It is not surprising, because this is the best role that the Turkish rulership loves: You will be both the oppressor by using all the power available, but then will play the role of the victim when the time comes,” he said in his defense.

Yücel was held without a formal indictment for a year until his release in February 2018. His arrest in 2017 prompted a sharp deterioration in relations between Ankara and Berlin.

Turkey's Constitutional Court in 2019 has ruled that Yücel's detention was unlawful.