Journalist Mehmet Altan, activist Celalettin Can released from prison
Altan, first arrested in September 2016 for alleged links to the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), which is blamed for the 2016 failed coup, and then sentenced to life in jail, was released from the Silivri Prison outside Istanbul following an earlier court ruling, the P24 press freedom group said in a statement.
His conviction and life sentence have not been quashed and he remains subject to a travel ban and obligation to report to authorities regularly.
The Constitutional Court in January had ruled that Altan should be released on the grounds his rights had been violated but, to the fury of his supporters, a lower criminal court ignored this and he remained in jail.
The European Court of Human Rights had in March also ruled that Altan’s human rights had been violated by his detention.
“I am freed after 21 months, when I should never have been taken into custody,” P24 quoted him as saying outside the jail where he was welcomed by friends and colleagues.
“Let my release be some hope on the way to law and democracy.”
The ruling was made by an Istanbul regional court which heard his appeal and based its decision on the previous “binding” ruling of the Constitutional Court.
“The release of Mehmet Altan was long overdue,” Amnesty International’s Europe Director Gauri van Gulik said in a statement.
“His imprisonment was a travesty of justice that was emblematic of the deep flaws within the Turkish justice system,” she said.
According to P24, before Altan’s release there were 182 journalists detained in Turkey, most of them jailed under the state of emergency.
In a separate development, an Istanbul court ordered the release of nine rights activists including the spokesperson for the 78s Initiative, Celalettin Can.
Can was held together with 18 executives of the Peoples’ Democratic Party/Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDP/HDK) since Feb. 20, 2018 in a case filed against 29 people on charges of “being members of an armed terrorist organization.”
An international travel ban has been imposed on the released as the next hearing of the case was adjourned to Sept. 11.