Erdoğan let me be tortured in Turkish prison - journalist Deniz Yücel

German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel told a German court on Friday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was personally responsible for the psychological and physical violence that he underwent while in prison, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Yücel, a former Turkey correspondent for the German daily Die Welt, spent nearly one year behind bars after being detained on terrorism and propaganda charges as part of a Turkish government’s crackdown following the July 2016 coup attempt. The journalist, released from released from jail in Feb. 2018 pending trial, has since returned to Germany.

The torture inflicted on the 45-year-old journalist was "possibly directly instigated by the Turkish president or someone in his inner circle, but in any case was the result of the smear campaign that he started and bears responsibility for," Yücel told a Berlin district court.

Yücel’s testimony in Berlin is part of an ongoing trial against him in Turkey, where prosecutors have recommended an 18-year prison sentence after a Turkish court recently ruled that the former Die Welt correspondent is allowed to testify while in Germany.

The journalist, who was at the centre of a diplomatic row between Ankara and Berlin, said he was "tortured for three days" during his pre-trial detention in the maximum security Silivri prison, where he was held between Feb. 2017 -Feb. 2018.

Yücel told the court that he was verbally assaulted and subjected to physical violence, ‘’including blows to his feet, chest, back and the back of his head. The assaults always took place where no cameras were installed,’’ Deutsche Welle said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had dubbed Yücel, accused of “making terrorist propaganda,” a "member of the outlawed Workers' Party (PKK) as well as a "German agent." Erdoğan also called the German-Turkish journalist a "terrorist."

The torture was intended to further aggravate the already strained relationship that Turkey had with Germany, Yücel told the German court, stressing that  as one of the reasons he chose to delay talking about the abuse when he was released.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has detained thousands of rights activists, journalists and lawyers since the failed putsch against Turkey’s strongman Erdoğan in 2016.

Turkey placed 157th out of 180 countries on World Press Freedom Index ranking in 2018 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Turkey remains to be the "world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists" according to the same report.