Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

Ahmet Altan’s lawyer requests urgent release amid Covid-19 threat

Ahmet Altan’s lawyer requests urgent release amid Covid-19 threat

In her petition to the Supreme Court, lawyer Çalıkuşu says first deaths in prisons from Covid-19 confirmed, requests urgent release of Altan


Jailed novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan’s lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Appeals on 13 April, seeking her client’s immediate release due to a heightened risk of Covid-19’s spread in Turkey’s prisons.


Stressing that Altan, who is 70 years old, is at higher risk of infection, Çalıkuşu asked the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, where the Altans case is currently pending, to urgently rule for her client’s release.


Çalıkuşu’s latest petition, one of numerous petitions seeking Altan’s release, followed immediately on the heels of Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül’s press briefing earlier on 13 April, in which the minister announced that a total of 17 inmates in five open prisons across Turkey have been diagnosed with Covid-19 while three inmates in open prisons have died of the disease. The minister also stated that 79 prison staff have tested positive for Covid-19 so far.


Pointing out that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, Çalıkuşu asserted in her petition that the right to life was “the most fundamental constitutional right and should be safeguarded by the state.”


“On the one hand is the fact that my client is being kept in prison through judicial harassment and disregard of the rule of law, on the other is the serious threat on his life [caused by the pandemic],” Çalıkuşu added.


Altan has been in detention on remand in Silivri Prison for three-and-a-half years as part of the Altans case. Although the trial court ruled for Altan’s release at the end of the retrial of the case in November 2019, he was re-arrested only eight days after his release based on an objection by the prosecutor. The case file is still pending before the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals.