Merkel underlines state of law in Turkish PM meeting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined the importance of the state of law during talks with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım that touched on jailed German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, the news site Gazete Duvar reported on Thursday.

Yıldırım stopped in Berlin after visiting Belarus, telling reporters on the way that he thought the time had come to normalise Turkish-German relations after a tense period that saw Turkish and German leaders exchange accusations of authoritarianism.

One major point of contention for Germany is the imprisonment of Yücel, who has been held on pre-trial detention since February 2017 on espionage charges, but has yet see an indictment.

“The Deniz Yücel is of great importance to us,” said the German chancellor at a joint press conference. “He is being held even though they have not prepared an indictment. We discussed the principles of a state of law, which must be respected.”

Yıldırım responded to the comments on Yücel’s case by saying that Turkey’s courts had been too busy to process the case, as a result of the high number of arrests following the July 2016 failed coup attempt. “I hope the hearings can take place as soon as possible,” he said.

Thousands of Turkish citizens have been arrested during the state of emergency that has been in place since July 2016, many of them on terrorism charges related to the coup attempt.

A reporter at the press conference showed Yıldırım pictures of bodies said to have been killed by Turkish forces during its military incursion into Afrin, a mostly Kurdish area in northwest Syria, provoking an angry response from the Turkish prime minister.

"Those are fake," said Yıldırım. "If you want to see what is happening, go there (to Afrin)."