Turkey’s Constitutional Court to review applications of 10 convicted journalists

The Turkish Constitutional Court is set to convene on May 2nd to review the applications of 10 dissident journalists, most of whom are jailed, claiming violation of their personal freedoms and freedom of expression, Expression Interrupted web-site run by the Turkish Platform for Independent Journalism reported.

The applications of the journalists, including Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak, Murat Sabuncu, Akın Atalay, Kadri Gürsel, Önder Çelik, Murat Aksoy and Ahmet Şık will be on the agenda of the court’s General Committee hearing next month, the court announced on its official website.

The court will examine the applications by the journalists which claim their arrests were or are illegal and the access restriction on their legal investigations are a violation of their rights.

All of the journalists were arrested following the July 2016 coup attempt and accused of either attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and/or aiding a terrorist organisation, namely the Gülen movement, which Ankara accuses of orchestrating the coup.

On February 16, 2018, the 26th High Criminal Court in Istanbul convicted journalists Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through the use of force and violence and sentenced them life in prison.

Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and reporter Ahmet Şık, who were held for over a year on terror-related charges, are freed but remain on trial.

Sabuncu, along with eight other Cumhuriyet staff, including Akın Atalay, the chairman of the newspaper’s executive board, were jailed pending trial on charges of conducting activities on behalf of a terror organisation and “serving its objectives” with his tweets and headlines and articles published in the newspaper.

Kadri Gürsel and Önder Çelik were also Cumhuriyet staffers who were jailed as part of the Cumhuriyet case, in which 17 people are charged with links to terror groups.  Gürsel was released in Sept. of 2017, but Çelik remains behind bars.

Journalist Murat Aksoy was also jailed for aiding a terrorist organisation following the coup attempt, before being released on parole on Jan. 4.