Turkish PM defends local court’s refusal of Constitutional Court order

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has commented on the local court that refused Constitutional Court’s order for the release of two jailed journalists, saying the local court ‘knows the case file the best.’

Yıldırım was quoted by the pro-government newspaper Akşam as saying:

We may or may not like the Constitutional Court’s decision, but as you know, the first-degree court is in charge of the case file.

We do not know the content of the case file. The Constitutional Court does not know its content either, but the local court knows. So, it is the first-degree court that will make the right decision. The necessary ruling will be made by the local court where the file is being tried.

The local court will make the most legally appropriate decision, taking into consideration the case file and the Constitutional Court's ruling. Our expectation is that they would not take a decision which will harm our struggle against FETO [the organisation accused of plotting the 2016 coup attempt], nor would they take any decision that may be perceived as such. 

The Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered the release of journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan, saying their pre-trial detention, which had been continuing for more than 17 months, violated their rights.

The local court however, failed to comply with Turkey’s top court’s order, saying it did not receive the order in ‘due course’.

Yıldırım stated his government's desire for the courts to assist in the struggle against terrorism, and not hinder to it with their orders.

“It is both the administration’s and the court’s duty to act very carefully in this regard,” Yıldırım said.

Alpay and Altan were detained in July 2016 and charged with membership of the “FETÖ terrorist organisation,” Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu reported at the time, using the government’s label for the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Ankara accuses Gülen of masterminding the July 2016 coup, and charges its followers for “terrorism.”

Gülen denies any involvement with the coup, and denounced it publicly. Journalists Altay and Altan deny being followers of Gülen, and deny all charges against them.