Jailed Turkish-German reporter says solitary is torture

Deniz Yücel, the jailed journalist at the centre of a diplomatic row between Turkey and Germany, accused Turkish authorities of torture for keeping him in solitary confinement since May at a top security prison outside Istanbul.

Yucel, both a German and Turkish citizen, was the Turkey correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt when he was arrested in February on charges of spying. He has been held in pre-trial detention ever since.

Conditions worsened, he said in answers to questions from Die Tageszeitung (TAZ) newspaper via his lawyers, when he was transferred from a jail in Istanbul to the top security Silivri prison in May and held in isolation from other prisoners.

Weekly gatherings with other prisoners for social activities were banned due to the state of emergency that began more than a year ago, he said, and even during one-hour-a-week sports activities, he was not allowed to meet other prisoners.

Yücel said he could only see prison guards, and meet his lawyers and his wife during visits, and he could only call out to fellow prisoners, including a former judge kept in a neighbouring cell for 16 months.

Isolation is torture. Even though I am actually in good spirits, I can not see what long-term consequences that will have.

Allowed to watch television and read newspapers, Yücel said he followed the cases of other foreign citizens in jail, notably Peter Steudner, a German human rights activist who was released from prison after three months following pressure from the German government.

Asked whether he wanted Germany to exert political pressure to release him, Yücel said:

I want a fair trial, and I want to tomorrow, not later. All I wish is justice, everything else comes after it.