Deniz Yucel, the Turkey correspondent for Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, has been arrested by the authorities in Turkey as they investigate allegations made by the pro-government Sabah newspaper of links between a number of journalists and the Turkish hacker collective RedHack. Yucel, a German citizen, turned himself in to the police upon learning of the warrant for his arrest, and has so far been held for over three days.
Yucel’s arrest comes as one of a large number of journalists taken into custody during the current state of emergency in Turkey, which has been in effect since after the July 2016 attempted coup. The RedHack investigation, which with Yucel’s arrest has assumed an international scope, also saw the arrest of six Turkish journalists – Tunca Ogreten, Derya Okatan, Eray Sargin, Omer Celik, Metin Yoksu and Mehir Kanaat – on 25 December 2016.
The authorities are acting on allegations made by the Sabah newspaper that these journalists had links to NetHack, after they published news stories on the hacker collective’s leak of Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak’s emails. Albayrak, also the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, until 2013 served as CEO of the Calik Holding conglomerate, which owns the Sabah newspaper.
Hasan Yilmaz, the public prosecutor in charge of the case, has presented a startling variety of accusations against the journalists, including charges of membership of and propagandizing for a diverse range of groups considered terrorist organizations in Turkey. These include the far-left militant DHKP-C and MLKP, the Kurdish nationalist PKK, and the Fethullah Gulen Organization (FETO), which stands accused of organizing the 2016 coup attempt.
The real aim of the investigation can perhaps be understood from the legal dispatch written by Yilmaz for the case. As well as the accusations linking the journalists to the wildly-diverging and unconnected illegal organizations, Yilmaz claims that the information they obtained from Albayrak’s hacked emails was manipulated with a view to denigrating the government through the person of the Energy Minister. Yilmaz also alleges that the journalists sought to sabotage Turkey’s national energy policies by creating negative perceptions around it, including the notion that the government and Albayrak himself are connected to the Islamic State.
As well as the allegations of membership of the terrorist organizations, Yucel is also charged with illegally entering a computer system and obtaining and publishing personal information from within. He has stated that he wishes to respond to questions at the prosecutor’s office.
Adapted from Canan Coskun’s original Turkish-language article by @WasHatti’s Michael MacKenzie