Jun 30 2018

How journalist Mehmet Altan’s pre-appeal release was secured

Many were surprised when Mehmet Altan, a Turkish journalist recently given a sentence of life imprisonment on charges that he had been part of the “media wing” of a failed July 2016 coup attempt, was released from prison pending his appeal.

The lower court that issued the sentence had twice directly disobeyed Constitutional Court instructions that he and others in the case be released pending trial.

According to a statement released by lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu, it was this Constitutional Court judgement that swayed the appeals court and secured Altan’s release until the next hearing in September.

“The appellate court abided by a Constitutional Court judgement announced on 11 January 2018 and ruled for the immediate release of Mehmet Altan accordingly,” she wrote.

“This was because the Constitutional Court, upon examining the most up-to-date version of the case file, established in its judgement (No. 2016/23672) that there was no ‘strong suspicion of crime’ in Altan’s actions, which, according to the available evidence, consisted of writings and televised remarks, and that his detention led to three separate rights violations, and because the Constitutional Court judgments are binding on all institutions and persons under Article 153 of the Constitution.”

Altan had been in prison for almost two years pending trial until his release on June 27.