Turkey's prominent journalists' verdict is near

The trial of some of Turkey's leading journalists and novelists is likely to end soon and the court may release its verdict at the end of the week according to P24, Platform for Independent Journalism website.

Former editor-in-chief of Taraf newspaper, Ahmet Altan, his brother, columnist and economist Mehmet Altan, and another well-known journalist, Nazli Ilicak, will appear before Istanbul's 26th High Criminal Court on February 12-16.

Accusations against the suspects include “attempting to remove the constitutional order” and “being a member of an armed terrorist organization”. They deny the charges.

In the indictment, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak are accused of the crimes due to comments they made on a TV program for Can Erzincan TV, which was closed down after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Prosecutors considered those comments as containing subliminal messages for the coup.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court ordered the release of journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan in January, a decision that appeared to set a precedent for other cases. But, the lower Istanbul 13th Criminal Court ordered a continuation of their remand pending a verdict in the case, raising concern of political interference in the case. 

International human rights groups are watching the trial of the journalists closely and have criticised their extended pre-trial detentions, which have lasted more than a year. Over 60 members of the European Parliament had released a statement welcoming the Turkish Constitutional Court’s decision.