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.

Mehmet Altan’s lawyers to file daily petitions for his release 

Mehmet Altan’s lawyers to file daily petitions for his release 

The petition demands for Constitutional Court and European Court rulings in favor of Altan to be implemented immediately 


The lawyers representing imprisoned columnist and professor of economics Mehmet Altan will be filing a motion for his release on a daily basis until the Regional Court of Appeal takes up Altan’s file for review of detention and the commencement of the procedures as part of the ongoing appeal process.

Lawyers Ergin Cinmen and Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu filed the first motion demanding Altan’s release on June 11.

In it, they highlighted that it had been 151 days since the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled that Altan’s detention was in violation of his rights to personal liberty and security and freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Altan has been in 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 attempted coup of July 15, 2016. In February, at the final hearing of the case against them, the trial court found Altan and five other co-defendants, including his brother, novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan, and veteran journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, guilty of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and sentenced each to aggravated life imprisonment.

Five months since Constitutional Court ruling

In the petition, lawyers Cinmen and Çalıkuşu made numerous references to the judgments in favor of Altan rendered by the Constitutional Court of Turkey, on January 11, and the European Court of Human Rights, on March 20.

Both Turkey’s top court and the Strasbourg court held in their respective rulings concerning the individual applications made on behalf of Altan that his pretrial detention was in violation of his rights to personal liberty and security and freedom of expression.

The trial court, however, refused to implement the Constitutional Court ruling, saying the top court overstepped its jurisdiction by examining evidence included in the case file.

The 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul also refused to rule on Altan’s case following the European Court’s judgment, saying the case was disposed as it has already delivered its verdict on the case. Such matters, it said, should be deferred to the relevant criminal chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice, which act as appellate courts.

“The Constitutional Court found that Altan’s arrest was unlawful and that there was no strong suspicion of crime,” lawyers Cinmen and Çalıkuşu wrote in the petition, adding that Altan was “being forcibly and unlawfully kept in prison since the Constitutional Court ruling of January 11, 2018.”

Five months have passed since the Constitutional Court’s ruling and three months since the European Court’s ruling.

The petition (in Turkish) can be accessed here.