Turkish judiciary seeks vengeance, not justice - Economist

The authorities in Turkey re-arrested journalist Ahmet Altan last week because the judicial system is designed to mete out political vengeance rather than justice, the Economist’s cultural commentator Prospero said.

Altan was released on Nov. 4 after spending three years behind bars for a range of charges related to a coup attempt in July 2016. A week later, police arrested him again after a court accepted an appeal against his release from the Istanbul prosecutor’s office.

The journalist has been accused of aiding the Gülen religious movement, which the government says orchestrated the coup attempt. Many see this as a valid charge, since Altan’s now shuttered Taraf newspaper published falsified documents provided by members of the movement during political trials that targeted thousands of secularist military officers and public figures late last decade.

However, Prospero quoted Dani Rodrik, an academic and fierce critic of the trials, as saying Altan’s responsibility for those past events does not justify what he calls the baseless charges against the journalist.

Altan is one of “thousands of judges, prosecutors, teachers and journalists, convicted or suspected of links, no matter how tenuous, to the Gülen community,” Prospero said.

“Scores of members of Turkey’s main Kurdish party, including Selahattin Demirtaş, a former presidential contender, are also in prison,” said the commentator.

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović called Altan’s re-arrest “senseless cruelty”, while rights group Article 19 said it amounted to psychological torture.