BERLIN (Reuters) – A German journalist charged by Turkey with publishing terrorist propaganda and membership of a terrorist group said she would appear in an Istanbul court on Tuesday to seek her acquittal, a move she said could also help lift a travel ban imposed on her husband.
German citizen Mesale Tolu was one of tens of thousands of civil servants and journalists detained in Turkey after a failed coup attempt in 2016 against President Tayyip Erdogan.
In a radio interview, Tolu, 34, suggested her decision to return from Germany and appear in court would signal respect for Turkey’s judicial system which in turn might facilitate the lifting of a travel ban imposed on her husband, Suat Corlu, a defendant in the same trial.
Relations between the NATO partners soured after Germany condemned Turkey’s arrests following the failed coup of some 50,000 people, and the suspension or firing of 150,000 others, including teachers, judges and soldiers.
Ties have improved in recent months, especially after Turkey released German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in February and lifted a travel ban imposed against Tolu after she was released from prison in December following eight months in detention.
Barely two months after Turkey allowed Tolu to leave the country, she said she had decided to return and appear in court because she hoped that, while it may end in her serving prison time, it would help get her husband out of Turkey where he faces terrorism charges.
If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison.
“We will be sentenced together, from the same judge in the same trial,” Tolu told ARD broadcaster. “The judge let me go and not my husband, and if I do not show up, he’ll say, ‘We let Ms. Tolu go, she’s not coming anymore, why should we let Mr. Corlu go?’ That is an important reason, also for my son, to go back and participate in the process.”
Tolu said it was not an easy decision for her to return to Turkey. “But of course it’s very important for my son that he can also be with his father. So I have to go back,” she said.
“I think it will increase the chances that the travel ban for my husband is lifted as well,” she said.
Tolu said she could not rule out being re-arrested or sentenced. These were risks she had to take, she added.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Editing by William Maclean)