Even the pope’s request that arrested German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel be pardoned cannot help him, Turkey’s ambassador to the Vatican, Mehmet Paçacı, said in an interview with the German Catholic News Agency (KNA) in Rome on May 11.
Claiming that the Turkish judiciary operates “freely and independently,” Paçacı said the question of “whether someone is guilty or not is decided within the own rules of Turkish legal system and available evidence” and that “no one can interfere with this.”
Yücel, who holds both German and Turkish citizenship, was arrested on Feb. 27 on charges of propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting public violence, after first being detained on Feb. 14.
Yücel, a journalist for Die Welt, faces up to 10.5 years in jail if convicted.
Despite the lack of a conviction, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has already pronounced Yücel a “terrorist” on more than one occasion.
Answering the KNA’s questions on Yücel’s arrest, Paçacı said, “Even the Pope’s request for the granting of a pardon [to Yücel] will not work.”
Statements regarding the Turkish government’s restrictions on freedom of press in the country were just “negative propaganda” and a “consequence of the lobbying work of the Gülen cult abroad,” the ambassador said.
Paçacı also touched upon recent discussions that the death penalty could be reinstated in Turkey.
“The death penalty is demanded by the people. President Erdoğan has only been giving voice to these people’s demand,” the envoy said, adding that the death penalty did not present any problem in Islam theologically.
Erdoğan has in recent months said he would approve the return of the death penalty if the parliament passes such a law. The death penalty is banned in all EU countries and its return in Turkey would end the country’s EU membership process.