Turkey's top court says lower courts must follow its rulings

Turkey's Constitutional Court said the duty of the local courts was to follow its rulings, not question them, after a lower court rejected orders by the top court to release of journalist Mehmet Altan, T24 reported on Tuesday.

Altan, a columnist and professor of economics, was detained in September 2016, months after a failed coup attempt, and charged with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order by force. Altan made two applications to the Constitutional Court claiming that his detention had violated his personal freedoms, his right to freedom of expression and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Constitutional Court twice ruled that Altan should be freed, but the rulings were overturned by a lower court in violation of the usual judicial hierarchy. Altan was given a life sentence in February 2018, but was later released pending appeal.

The Constitutional Court also ruled that the journalist should be paid 30,000 lira ($5,015) in compensation because his rights had been violated by the lower court.

"The Constitutional Court showed a red card to those who want to operate illegally within the state. The constitution provides the legitimacy of states and communities," T24 quoted Altan's lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu as saying.

The Constitutional Court also ruled last year that hundreds of academics who signed a 2016 petition against the resumption of the conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were exercising their right to freedom of expression. In December, the court also ruled that Wikipedia, which had been unavailable in Turkey for two years, should be unblocked.