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Turkey orders German newspaper journalist jailed until trial

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish court ordered a journalist for Germany's Die Welt newspaper jailed on Monday pending a trial on charges of terrorist propaganda and inciting hatred, media reports said. The action came amid a continuing crackdown on journalists and press freedom in Turkey.

Deniz Yucel, who has both Turkish and German citizenship, was detained on Feb. 14 following his reports about a hacker attack on the email account of Turkey's energy minister, the newspaper said.

Yucel was questioned by a prosecutor in Istanbul for some 3 ½ hours before a judge ordered him formally arrested pending the preparation of an indictment and a trial. Die Welt confirmed that he was ordered into custody.

Yucel, 43, joins scores of journalists who have been jailed in Turkey following a July 15 coup attempt that prompted a government crackdown on alleged anti-government activists. The crackdown has included the closure of at least 100 news outlets in Turkey.

The private Dogan news agency said Yucel was questioned about an interview he conducted with Cemil Bayik, a commander of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, as well as about articles he had written on Turkey's policies toward Kurds.

The Die Welt journalist also was asked whether he had any links to the hacker collective RedHack, which obtained the energy minister's emails that were made available on WikiLeaks, Dogan reported. The energy minister, Berat Albayrak, is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said news that Yucel was being held in investigative custody was "bitter and disappointing."

"This measure is disproportionately harsh, especially given that Deniz Yucel presented himself to the Turkish justice system voluntarily and for the purpose of the investigation," Merkel said. She said the German government "will continue to work strenuously so that Deniz Yucel is treated fairly and according to the rule of law."

"The German government expects that the Turkish justice system keeps in mind the great importance that press freedom has in any democratic society in its treatment of the Yucel case," Merkel said.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the case had highlighted what he called "dramatic times for Turkey and also difficult times for German-Turkish relations."

"The case of Deniz Yucel casts a harsh light on the different way in which our two countries appear to apply the principles of rule of law and the way we assess press freedom and freedom of speech," he said.

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