Turkey’s top court throws out own decision – report

Turkey’s Constitutional Court rejected a demand to release journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan, effectively throwing out its own decision made in January.

Such a demand could only be granted when there is a serious threat to the defendants’ right to life or to material or moral integrity, the court ruled on Feb. 2, according to Cumhuriyet newspaper.

The same court had ruled on Jan. 11 that Alpay and Altan should be released saying their internment had violated their personal freedoms. Lower courts rejected the ruling, leading to what many political observers labelled a constitutional crisis and interference by the government in the judiciary.

The European Union warned last week that the reversal of court decisions threatened the rule of law in Turkey.

Altay and Alpan have been in jail for more than a year on terrorism charges and on alleged attempts to overthrow the government.  

Altan’s lawyer, Ergin Cinmen, described the Constitutional Court’s refusal to release the journalists as “unlawful”, according to Cumhuriyet.

More than 140 journalists are currently in jail in Turkey, according to figures supplied by the Turkish Journalists’ Association. That is the highest number in the world.