Freed German-Turkish journalist says Ankara held him ‘hostage’

German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel is pictured in front of his home after he was released from prison in Istanbul, Turkey, Feb. 16, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 17 February 2018

Freed German-Turkish journalist says Ankara held him ‘hostage’

BERLIN: A German-Turkish journalist who was freed in Turkey after spending more than a year in jail without trial said he was held “hostage” by Ankara and that other journalists are still stuck in Turkish prisons just “for doing their job.”
Deniz Yucel, 44, the Turkey-based correspondent of Die Welt newspaper, landed in Berlin on Friday night hours after being released from a high security prison in Istanbul.
In a video posted on social media during the night Yucel said: “The funny thing is that I still do not know why I was jailed for a year, why I was held hostage for a year.”
Yucel, who has both German and Turkish citizenship, had been accused of writing propaganda in support of terrorism.
He is among more than 100 journalists and writers to be detained in Turkey since the failed July 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On Friday, prosecutors presented an indictment seeking up to 18 years in jail for Yucel on charges of “making terror propaganda” and “inciting public hatred and hostility,” but he left the country.
In the video, Yucel also highlighted the plight of other journalists jailed in Turkey, saying they had “done nothing but their job.”
On Friday, an Istanbul court also jailed three prominent Turkish journalists for life on charges of links to the group blamed for the failed coup.
Amnesty International said their sentencing had “drained the joy from celebrations” over Yucel’s release.
“I do not know why I was released today,” said Yucel in the video. “Of course I rejoice (my freedom) but there is a bitter aftertaste.”
Yucel’s surprise release may help repair severely-eroded ties between Ankara and Berlin.
However a number of German citizens or dual nationals — who are seen by Berlin as political hostages — remain in Turkish prisons, among the more than 55,000 people arrested since the failed coup.


Facebook donates $2.1 million to support Lebanon

Updated 12 August 2020

Facebook donates $2.1 million to support Lebanon

  • Managing Director Facebook MENA Ramez Shehadi: We are donating more than $2.1 million to local hospitals, medical institutions and NGOs
  • Ramez Shehadi: We’re working with hospitals and local partners to launch local access to our blood donation tool — allowing donors to find nearby blood donation centers in need of support

DUBAI: Facebook is giving millions to local hospitals, medical institutions and NGOs in Lebanon to support relief and recovery efforts in Beirut following the devastating blast there.

“In support of the vital work that organizations and individuals are doing on the ground in Beirut, we are donating more than $2.1 million to local hospitals, medical institutions and NGOs to support relief and recovery efforts, $1 million of which has been matched by our community as part of a Facebook fundraiser,” said Ramez Shehadi, managing director, Facebook Middle East and North Africa.

“Moreover, we’re working with hospitals and local partners to launch local access to our blood donation tool — which allows blood donors to find nearby blood donation centers in need of support — and supporting local newsrooms impacted. We will continue to work with different organizations that are making a real difference at this critical time,” Shehadi said.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said in a post: “Facebook is doing what we can to help those struggling in the aftermath. Our safety check tool was activated soon after the explosion, with tens of thousands of people using it to let their friends and loved ones know they were OK. Hundreds of thousands of people visited our crisis page to get accurate information and request help, and we have seen our community come together to search for the missing and offer places to sleep to those who have lost homes. And we are launching our blood donation tool in Lebanon in partnership with local hospitals and others to point local blood donors to nearby blood donation centers.”

Additionally, the Facebook Community activated the safety check feature; and the crisis page is a resource for all those looking for help and support, from searching for missing loves ones to providing services such as blood donations.