Responding to a decision from the Turkish Constitutional Court which ruled today that the continued detention of Can Atalay, who was elected to the Turkish parliament in May, is a violation of his rights, Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty International’s Research Director in Europe, the Balkans and Türkiye said:
“Can Atalay should never have been imprisoned so today’s decision is very welcome, despite being long overdue. It also provides a resounding confirmation of what we long knew – that his right to liberty had been violated. Atalay must now be immediately and unconditionally released.Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty International’s Research Director in Europe, the Balkans and Türkiye
“Atalay is a prisoner of conscience (PoC), one of five people similarly held behind bars after being convicted in the absence of any criminal acts, in a grossly unfair, politically motivated Gezi trial. He and the remaining four, Osman Kavala – who the European Court of Human Rights has twice ruled must be released, Ciğdem Mater, Tayfun Kahraman and Mine Özerden should all be released immediately and unconditionally to end the gross injustice they have been subjected to.”
Can Atalay has been held in custody since 25 April 2022 on the spurious charge of “assisting the overthrow of the government.”
Can Atalay acted as the lawyer for Taksim Solidarity and the Istanbul Chamber of Architects during Gezi Park protests in 2013. He has represented the families in many prominent cases challenging impunity for the killings, including the 2014 Soma coal mine explosion in which more than 300 miners were killed and the 2018 Çorlu train derailment where 24 people were killed and more than 300 people injured.
Atalay was elected as a Member of the Parliament for the southern province of Hatay in the May 2023 parliamentary election, but the Court of Cassation denied his appeal for his release from prison in July 2023.
On 28 September, the Court of Cassation rejected Can Atalay’s and the four other PoCs appeals, upholding their convictions. In the case of Atalay, the Court of Cassation rejected the jurisprudence established in previous Constitutional Court judgments related to other imprisoned Members of Parliament. Today’s Constitutional Court ruling once again confirms that established caselaw.