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.


Google CEO calls for regulation of artificial intelligence

Updated 20 January 2020

Google CEO calls for regulation of artificial intelligence

  • Sundar Pichai’s comments come as lawmakers and governments seriously consider putting limits on how artificial intelligence is used
  • Pichai’s comments suggest the company may be hoping to head off a broad-based crackdown by the EU on the technology

LONDON: Google’s chief executive called Monday for a balanced approach to regulating artificial intelligence, telling a European audience that the technology brings benefits but also “negative consequences.”

Sundar Pichai’s comments come as lawmakers and governments seriously consider putting limits on how artificial intelligence is used.

“There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. The question is how best to approach this,” Pichai said, according to a transcript of his speech at a Brussel-based think tank.

He noted that there’s an important role for governments to play and that as the European Union and the US start drawing up their own approaches to regulation, “international alignment” of any eventual rules will be critical. He did not provide specific proposals.

Pichai spoke on the same day he was scheduled to meet the EU’s powerful competition regulator, Margrethe Vestager.

Vestager has in previous years hit the Silicon Valley giant with multibillion-dollar fines for allegedly abusing its market dominance to choke off competition. After being reappointed for a second term last autumn with expanded powers over digital technology policies, Vestager has now set her sights on artificial intelligence, and is drawing up rules on its ethical use.

Pichai’s comments suggest the company may be hoping to head off a broad-based crackdown by the EU on the technology. Vestager and the EU have been the among the more aggressive regulators of big tech firms, an approach US authorities have picked up with investigations into the dominance of companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

“Sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities,” he said, adding that it could incorporate existing standards like Europe’s tough General Data Protection Regulation rather than starting from scratch.

While it promises big benefits, he raised concerns about potential downsides of artificial intelligence, citing as one example its role in facial recognition technology, which can be used to find missing people but also for “nefarious reasons” which he didn’t specify.

In 2018, Google pledged not to use AI in applications related to weapons, surveillance that violates international norms, or that works in ways that go against human rights.