Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

Turkey releases Ahmet Altan after 4 years in prison

Published on: 15 April, 2021


Ahmet Altan [Al Jazeera]

Ahmet Altan [Al Jazeera]

A Turkish court has released the well-known journalist and novelist Ahmet Altan after more than four years in prison.

Altan, who is 71, was in prison for charges of involvement in the failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. He consistently denied such involvement.

The Turkish court’s decision followed one day after the the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) announced its judgment in Ahmet Altan v Turkey on Tuesday.

The case involved Altan’s pre-trial detention after his arrest on suspicion of membership of the Fetullahist Terrorist Organisation.

The events took place around the time of the attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016 and the subsequent state of emergency.

Altan was jailed after writing politically sensitive pieces critical of the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and in support of Kurdish rights.

He is the founder of the liberal newspaper Taraf and the author of the acclaimed prison memoir I will never see the world again.

The ECHR found that Turkey had violated article 1, the right to liberty and security as well as article 5, the right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court, of the European Convention on Human Rights.

From his home in Istanbul Altan said to The Guardian: ‘I don’t know how I got out. I was sitting [in prison] and all of a sudden I was told this evening that I would be released’.

Commenting on the release of Altan, UK-based barrister, author and President of  human rights organisation English PEN, Philippe Sands said to Al Jazeera: ‘He is one of the most remarkable and inspiring human beings I have ever known. After four years of wrongful, illegal imprisonment – “like living without clocks, in endless time”, he told me when I visited him in the Silivri maximum security prison –  he is home. I celebrate him and his freedom, and all those who made this happen.’

In total 497 people have been tried in Turkey since 2017 in connection with the failed coup.