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 files daily petition with Constitutional Court

Ahmet Altan’s lawyer files daily petition with Constitutional Court

The petition urges the top court to render its judgment concerning the individual application filed on behalf of Altan in November 2016 without further delay

The lawyer representing imprisoned novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan has launched a campaign in which she will be filing a petition with the Constitutional Court every day starting on 4 January 2019 until the top court rules on Altan’s individual application, pending before its Plenary since November 2016.

Altan has been in the Silivri Prison since 10 September 2016, when he was arrested and later jailed pending trial on charges stemming from alleged links to the Fethullah Gülen network, which the government accuses of orchestrating the coup attempt of July 2016. Altan and his co-defendants -- including his brother, professor of economics Mehmet Altan, and veteran journalist Nazlı Ilıcak -- were accused of sending “subliminal messages” during a television appearance prior to the coup attempt. The trial court convicted all six defendants of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” in February 2018 and imposed on them aggravated life imprisonment sentences.

In her petition, Altan’s lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu underscores that her client has been deprived of his liberty for 846 days.

She also stresses in the petition that Altan’s individual application, referred to the Constitutional Court’s Plenary on 4 July 2018, had been pending before the court for the past six months.

In a press statement she issued about the campaign, Çalıkuşu said: 

Today we are launching a campaign in which we will be filing on a daily basis a petition with the Constitutional Court on behalf of my client Ahmet Altan, who has been deprived of his liberty for 846 days.

This marks yet another first in our country’s judicial history.

Last year, courts of first instance refused to implement the Constitutional Court’s January 2018 ruling in favor of my client Mehmet Altan, which was final and binding, for six months.

This time, it is the Constitutional Court itself that refuses to take up the individual application lodged on behalf of Altan on 8 November 2016. Although the Constitutional Court gave our application priority status and referred the file to its Plenary on 4 July 2018 for the judgment to be rendered, the application has been pending before the Plenary for the past six months. This marks yet another first in relation with the Altans case that will go down in the history of law and the Constitutional Court.

I would like to reiterate the fact that my jailed client Ahmet Altan’s file that has been given priority status has been pending before the court since 4 July 2018, awaiting the Plenary to merely render its judgment.

* Today is 4 January 2019.

* Today marks the 184th day the application has been pending before the Plenary of the Constitutional Court.

For a file concerning a jailed applicant that has reached the judgment phase to wait before the Plenary for months is an unprecedented situation that in itself constitutes yet another rights violation.

In order to put an end to this unprecedented situation, it has become imperative at this point that we file a petition every day with the Constitutional Court and call the top court’s attention to the urgency of the matter.

When considered together with the fact that the applicant is in jail, for his file -- which was initially granted priority status and which, in the 22 months that elapsed since, has reached the judgment phase, and which was already reviewed by the Constitutional Court -- to await judgment by the Plenary for more than six months is in conflict with the practice of individual application.

Throughout its history, humankind has willingly submitted to nothing but justice and the law.

In my strife to put an end to rights violations, starting today, I will be filing a new petition every day to reiterate this approach.

I request that the Honorable Court in the name of law take up the application that has been pending before the Plenary without further delay to urgently put an end to the ongoing plight of the applicant by way of determining the rights violations in his file and the remedies to address these violations.

Attorney Figen Çalıkuşu


An English translation of the petition can be found here.

The original petition (in Turkish) can be accessed here.