German journalist released from prison in Turkey

Binali Yıldırım

A Turkish court freed German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel on Friday pending trial after indicting him for alleged security offences, in a move welcomed by Berlin and which could lead to an easing of tensions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

The German Foreign Ministry also confirmed his release.

But Gabriel vehemently denied any "deal" for Yucel's release as reports emerged suggesting Ankara had its eye on Berlin upgrading its German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks.

"We know that there are other, perhaps not so prominent, cases of people that are in Turkish jails and we hope they'll enjoy a quick legal process and the rule of law too", she said.

Anadolu said a Turkish court has accepted an indictment seeking up to 18 years in jail for Yucel on charges of "spreading terrorist propaganda" and "stirring enmity" and opted to free him ahead of trial.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the release, but she also called on Ankara to guarantee fast judicial proceedings for other German citizens still being held in Turkish custody.

German newspaper "WELT" reported that no ban had been imposed on Yuecel from leaving the country, potentially allowing him to return to Germany soon.

Among the eight articles Turkish authorities used as proof of Yucel's propaganda there is one criticizing president Erdogan's concentration of power, and another interviewing the vice president of the PKK, considered by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization.

Merkel had on Thursday told visiting Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim that Yucel's detention stood in the way of efforts on both sides to improve "clouded" relations and marked a continuing "burden".

Turkey says its crackdown since the coup attempt - with the arrest of some 50,000 people - is needed for security reasons.

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