Lower Courts Refuse to Abide by Constitutional Court Ruling Ordering the Release of Journalists Alpay and Altan

Action at the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam

On Thursday, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that journalists Sahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan, who have both been in prison for more than a year, had their rights violated while in custody and therefore ordered their release. However, just hours later lower penal courts rejected the ruling. Alpay and Altan remain imprisoned.

Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty’s Director for Europe, said in reaction to the Constitutional Court’s ruling, “Turkey’s highest court has finally broken its silence on the flagrant attack on journalists and other critical voices under the State of Emergency. The ruling must serve as a test case and lead to the release of thousands of others arbitrarily detained under the ongoing post-coup crackdown.”

Both writers, Mehmet Altan and his brother Ahmet were arrested on September 10, 2016, charged with broadcasting “subliminal messages” announcing an imminent coup on television the day before the attempted coup.

Sahin Alpay was arrested on September 27, 2016. He has been charged with membership in a terrorist organization, as was a former columnist for the newspaper Zaman, which was associated with the Gulen Movement. The Turkish government believes that the Gulen Movement is solely responsible for the coup attempt.

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