11 Feb 2020 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 13 Sep 2016 n° 95/2016 Turkey

Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan Detained for Words Used on TV

1 Journalist in detention
Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ Article 19 AEJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ Article 19 AEJ RSF
On 10 September 2016, Ahmet Altan (journalist and writer) and his brother Mehmet Altan (professor and journalist) were detained by Turkish authorities for the words they used on the "Özgür Düşünce" programme that was broadcast on Can Erzincan TV on July 14. According to the Anadolu Agency, both journalists are accused of "delivering subliminal messages evoking the coup" and they gave "the impression that they already knew about the coup". Because the prosecutors in charge of the case are currently on holiday, no access to files has been granted to their lawyers and an appeal procedure against the detention has been refused to both defendants.
11 Feb 2020
The Constitutional Court has ruled that a lower court violated the rights of Mehmet Altan by not releasing him despite one of its previous judgment. The Constitutional court stated in the decision dated 9 January 2020 that the duty of the local courts is not to dispute the authority of it but to remove the situation that causes a rights violation. In its decision, the Constitutional Court cited a European Court of Human Rights judgment, which stated that the top court decisions are final and binding. The Constitutional Court also ruled that the journalist should be paid 30,000 Turkish lira in compensation
18 Nov 2019
On 15 November 2019, the 28th High Criminal Court rejected Ahmet Altan’s appeal against his arrest.
13 Nov 2019
On 12 November 2019, Ahmet Altan was re-arrested. Upon request by the Prosecutor’s Office of 6 November 2019, the 27th High Criminal Court revoked its decision to release him, on the grounds that his travel ban does not constitute a strong enough form of judicial control.
05 Nov 2019
On 4 November 2019, Mehmet Altan was acquitted, while Ahmet Altan was sentenced to 10 years and 6 months of prison respectively for “aiding a terrorist group without being one of its member” The Court ruled to release him, taking into account the time he served in pretrial detention. The journalist was freed on the same day and remains under a travel ban pending appeal.
09 Oct 2019
On 8 October 2019, the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court rejected the release requests of 5 defendants including Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak. The Court decided to comply with the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals to overturn the aggravated life imprisonment sentence and set a new trial on charges of “aiding a terrorist organization”. However the Court’s interim decision did not order the acquittal of Mehmet Altan. The travel ban imposed on him was revoked.
28 Jun 2018
On 27 June 2018, Istanbul's regional Justice Court ordered the release of Mehmet Altan, who was released on the same day.
16 Feb 2018
16 Jan 2018
On 15 January 2018 Istanbul's 27th High Criminal Court rejected Mehmet Altan’s appeal for release.
12 Jan 2018
On 11 January 2018 Turkey`s Constitutional Court ruled to release Mehmet Altan. His release was halted by Istanbul`s 26th High Criminal Court, which announced that his detention would be reviewed after the Constitutional Court’s reasoned decisions were formally communicated.
17 Nov 2017
On 13 November 2017, the third hearing in the Altans case took place in Istanbul. The judge dismissed the Altans’ entire defence team, on the grounds that they were in contempt of court. The case was not adjourned, and the Altans, who were not present in court but observed the proceedings via video link from Silivri prison, were forced to represent themselves.
12 Jan 2017
The Altans legal team has applied to the European Court of Human Rights on 12 January 2017 to challenge the journalists continuing detention. The Altans are still waiting on applications lodged with the Turkish Constitutional Court on 8 November 2016.
13 Nov 2019
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights reacts to the decision to re-arrest Ahmet Altan.
13 Nov 2019
OSCE Media Freedom Representative appalled by decision to re-arrest Ahmet Altan in Turkey one week after his release.
05 Nov 2019
OSCE Media Freedom Representative welcomes release of journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak in Turkey.
10 Oct 2019
CoE Human Rights Commissioner : Court decision prolonging Ahmet Altan detention is an "unacceptable delay in rectifying a blatant human rights violation".
20 Mar 2018
On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
16 Feb 2018
Life sentences for Turkish journalists are an unprecedented, unacceptable attack on freedom of expression, say OSCE representative on Media Freedom.
19 Jan 2018
The Council of Europe Secretary General refers to the recent decisions of Turkey’s Constitutional Court in his address to the Committee of Ministers
19 Oct 2017
On 10 October 2017, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights intervened before the European Court of Human Rights in cases concerning the detention of journalists and freedom of expression in Turkey
Journalists in detention

Currently in detention (1):

Ahmet Altan
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