Following a court decision to re-arrest writer Ahmet Altan just a week after he was released from jail following more than three years in pre-trial detention, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Marie Struthers said:
“It is shocking to hear that Ahmet Altan will once again be re-arrested following the prosecutor’s appeal against his release.
“He was prosecuted, jailed and convicted without a shred of evidence, purely because of his opinions. It is impossible to see this decision as anything other than further punishment for his determination not be silenced and it compounds an already shocking catalogue of injustice he has been subjected to.
“Ahmet Altan has committed no crime. He was released last Monday, following a unanimous court decision. His three years of pre-trial detention are a travesty of justice as is the sentence imposed on him. This judicial farce, emblematic of a period where politically motivated show trials have become the norm, must be brought to an end. Ahmet Altan must be allowed to remain at home with his family and to have his absurd conviction quashed.”
Ahmet Altan and his lawyer heard about this decision through the pro-government media and are yet to be directly informed.
On November 4, Ahmet Altan was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in prison, and fellow writer Nazlı Ilıcak was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on ludicrous charges of “knowingly and willingly assisting a terrorist organization.” Both Altan and Ilıcak were released pending their appeals by the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 26, subject to foreign travel bans. The court also unfairly convicted three others including two media workers and ruled that their pre-trial detention continues.
The prosecutor appealed against Ahmet Altan’s release on November 6. On November 8, the trial court Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 26 rejected the prosecutor’s request for Ahmet Altan’s return to prison, referring it to the Heavy Penal Court No. 27, who made a decision on the prosecutor’s appeal, but refused to communicate this to his lawyer.
Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak had been kept in pre-trial detention for over three years on bogus charges. They were initially charged with “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. They were re-tried on terrorism charges following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeals overturning the convictions in July 2019. Ahmet Altan’s brother academic Mehmet Altan who was also prosecuted in the same trial was acquitted by the court, in line with the Supreme Court of Appeals ruling in his case.