“The Turkish government always maintained that it would not exert any political influence on the court’s decision,” Mr. Gabriel said, adding that the government’s role was limited to accelerating the filing of the indictment, which led to Mr. Yucel’s release. “The independence of the court’s decision was always a main concern in all of our discussions.”
“Finally!! Finally!! Finally!! Deniz is free!” Mr. Yucel’s wife, Dilek Mayaturk Yucel, wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Yildirim addressed the matter obliquely in speaking to reporters after attending Friday Prayers in Munich.
“Some issues that happened in the previous period between Germany and Turkey seem to be resolved today,” he said. “We will together take steps to improve our relations from now on. And of course while doing this, what we expect is not to allow harmful activities to destroy our unity, not to tolerate terror groups.”
Hopes had been raised that Taner Kilic, a Turkish citizen and the chairman of Amnesty International Turkey, would also be released, in keeping with a recent order by a court in Istanbul. But on Friday, a different court ruled in favor of an appeal by prosecutors, and ordered the continued detention of Mr. Kilic, who has also been accused of supporting terrorism.
The journalists who received life sentences worked for some of the 150 news organizations that were shuttered after the failed coup on July 15, 2016. Mr. Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic government has jailed tens of thousands of people, including scores of journalists, and tightened its control over civic institutions.
One of the journalists sentenced on Friday was Ahmet Altan, a former editor in chief of the newspaper Taraf, which he left in 2012. Prosecutors claimed that the newspaper was created to further Mr. Gulen’s aims, and that Mr. Altan’s work there was evidence of his complicity with Mr. Gulen.
“They may have the power to imprison me but no one has the power to keep me in prison,” Mr. Altan wrote in an essay that was smuggled from prison last year. “Wherever you lock me up I will travel the world with the wings of my endless mind.”
Another of those sentenced to life imprisonment was Mehmet Altan, his brother, a columnist at another newspaper, Ozgur Dusunce. The third journalist, Nazli Ilicak, was a news anchor at Can Erzincan TV and columnist at Ozgur Dusunce.
The others sentenced were Fevzi Yapici, a page designer for Ozgur Dusunce; Yakup Simsek, the advertising director there; and Sukru Tugrul Ozsengul, a former police officer who has provided analysis on security issues for news programs.
“We know there are other, perhaps not as prominent, of people who remain in Turkish jails,” Ms. Merkel said. “For them, too, we hope for a speedy processing of the legal cases.”
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