Responding to the news that the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice has ruled for the release of imprisoned academic and writer Mehmet Altan, Amnesty International’s Europe Director Gauri van Gulik said:
“The release of Mehmet Altan was long overdue. His imprisonment was a travesty of justice that was emblematic of the deep flaws within the Turkish justice system.
“The country’s Constitutional Court twice ruled his imprisonment to be in violation of his right to freedom and security, yet unbelievably the trial court defied the ruling of Turkey’s highest court and condemned Mehmet to another six months of incarceration.
“Today’s welcome regional court ruling confirms the Constitutional Court’s decision as ‘final and binding’. The courts must now turn their attention to the thousands of others who remain unfairly detained in Turkey, including Amnesty international’s own Taner Kılıç.”
Mehmet Altan has been held in Silivri prison, Istanbul since 22 September 2016.
On 16 February 2018, he and five others – including his brother, the former newspaper editor and author Ahmet Altan, and journalist Nazlı Ilıcak – were convicted of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
On 11 January 2018, Turkey’s Constitutional Court had ruled that Mehmet Altan’s pre-trial detention should end, but the trial court refused to implement the ruling. A further appeal to the Constitutional Court against the non-implementation of the first ruling was successful but, again, the trial court refused to release him.
The decision to release Mehmet Altan does not mean his conviction is overturned. The conviction is still subject to an appeal he has launched.