Turkey: German Journalist Accused of 'Propaganda' to Be Freed

Angela Merkel speaks before audience at digital summit 2017

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has welcomed a Turkish court's decision to release German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, who was arrested previous year on suspicion of spreading terrorist propaganda.

German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel on Friday returned to his Istanbul home after his release from over a year in jail on terror accusations that strained ties between Ankara and Berlin, an AFP reporter said.

"I hope this will happen very soon", Gabriel added.

"I'm pleased, just like many, many others, that he was able to leave jail today", said Merkel, who on Thursday held talks in Berlin with Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Yucels lawyer and employer Die Welt had announced the decision to release the journalist, who was imprisoned in Silivri prison on the outskirts of Istanbul.

The court also accepted an indictment against Yucel demanding up to 18 years in prison on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda and inciting public hatred and enmity.

Mr Yucel was arrested after reporting that the Turkish energy minister's email account had been hacked.

Politicians and commentators also used the hashtag to celebrate his release with Justice Minister Heiko Maas tweeting: "The best news in a long time: Welcome to freedom!"

German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told a regular news conference on Friday that Yucel's release would be "an important first step" after massive diplomatic efforts.

In January, Turkey urged Germany, its biggest trading partner and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, to mend fences and they have since resumed bilateral government consultations that were suspended after Yucel's arrest.

After the report, Yucel, who has both German and Turkish citizenship, was accused by Turkey's authorities of writing terrorist propaganda in favor of Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) and Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish government identifies as a key player in the failed attempted coup in July of 2016. It has criticised Germany for not handing over asylum seekers it accuses of involvement in the failed coup.

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