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Turkey: Prosecutor wants German journalist cleared

September 16, 2021

German-Turkish journalist Mesale Tolu is accused of disseminating "terrorist propaganda" and being a member of a "terrorist organization."

Mesale Tolu and her husband Suat Corlu
Mesale Tolu and her husband Suat CorluImage: picture-alliance/dpa/L. Say

A Turkish prosecutor on Thursday urged the acquittal of German-Turkish journalist and translator Mesale Tolu.

Tolu, along with her activist and journalist husband Suat Corlu, and five others are on trial over alleged membership of a terrorist organization.

While the prosecution said all the co-defendants should also be acquitted on that charge, it is still demanding sentences against some defendants on terror propaganda charges — including against Tolu's husband.

What was the accusation?

Tolu and her husband have been accused of membership of the extremist Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).

The party is seen as a terrorist organization in Turkey. If found guilty, the pair could face prison terms in the country of up to 20 years. However, the couple are both now free and outside Turkey.

A verdict is expected on December 24.

What is Mesale Tolu's background?

Tolu used to work for the local leftist news agency ETHA and  was accused of attending rallies organized by the local Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP).

However, a lawyer for Corlu told the DPA news agency that the prosecutor said that, given that the ESP is a legal political party, this could not be a reason for terror charge.

Turkey: Journalists in Danger

Tolu was arrested in 2017 and spent eight months in prison before being released in December that year. She was permitted to return to Germany in August 2018.

Her husband was permitted to leave Turkey later that year. The prosecution is still recommending that he be found guilty of spreading terrorist propaganda.

Corlu is a Turkish citizen. Tolu has only German citizenship after revoking her Turkish citizenship in 2007. 

'Pressure and represssion'

Human rights groups regularly accuse Turkey of eroding press freedom by arresting journalists and shuttering critical media outlets.

Tolu's arrest, along with a number of other German activists and journalists, had strained ties between Ankara and Berlin.

The German Green party's media spokesperson Margit Stumpp, who was in Turkey to follow the trial, said the prosecution's decision betrayed a lack of firm evidence.

As a result, Stumpp said, the long pre-trial detention of the defendants was not justified and had been "completely inappropriate."

"Today shows that the prosecution has been using massive pressure and repression against the defendants for four years, without having solid evidence to support the charges," Stumpp said.

rc/rt (dpa, epd)