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PEN International welcomes Constitutional Court decision regarding Alpay and Altan

Thursday 11 January 2018 - 12:00am

Protesters in Turkey

Update - 11 January 2018

11 January 2018 – PEN International welcomes today’s decision by the Turkish Constitutional Court, that the fundamental rights of journalists Sahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan have been violated by their detention. Alpay, a columnist for the now-closed newspaper Zaman, has been jailed since 27 July 2016, and journalist and economist Altan has been jailed since 22 September 2016.

“We hope that following this ruling, Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay will be promptly released to at last re-join their families and friends’, said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International. ‘This should set the precedent for the release of all those detained for having peacefully exercised their right to freedom of expression, including Mehmet’s brother Ahmet. We continue to call for all politically motivated charges against journalists and writers in Turkey to be dropped.”

These are the first rulings that the Constitutional Court has made involving fundamental rights violations since the state of emergency was declared following the attempted coup in July 2016. Tens of thousands of applications remain pending. The protracted delay in rulings on applications that relate to the deprivation of liberty, until today, mean that the Court has failed to comply with Turkey’s international and regional human rights obligations concerning fair trials.

Both Alpay and Altan are facing charges in relation to their alleged involvement in the attempted coup of July 2016. PEN International considers the charges against them to be politically motivated and in clear violation of their right to freedom of expression. The proceedings in both men’s cases have been marred by due process violations.

PEN International has been monitoring Mehmet and Ahmet Altans’ criminal court proceedings and has intervened, with others, in the Altans’ and in Sahin Alpay’s cases before the European Court of Human Rights concerning their detention.

For further information please contact Laurens Hueting at PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email: