Court rejects appeal for release of journalist Altan

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Ahmet Altan

An application filed by lawyers for journalist and author Ahmet Altan, who has been in Silivri Prison since Sept. 23, for the release of their client has been rejected by an İstanbul court, the t24 news website reported on Monday.

Altan was arrested by an İstanbul court for allegedly “attempting a coup” and “membership in ‘FETÖ’,” a term the government coined to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement.

Judge Durmuş Karaçalı of the 2nd Penal Court of Peace rejected the petition by Altan’s lawyers, saying there is nothing that contravenes the law or violates procedure in the decision to arrest.

Journalist brothers Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan, who were detained on Sept. 10, were accused of sending “subliminal” messages regarding a failed coup attempt on July 15 on a TV show a day before the putsch.

After spending 12 days in detention, journalist and academic Mehmet Altan was arrested by an Istanbul court on Sept. 22, while his brother Ahmet Altan was released under judicial supervision.

Police detained Ahmet Altan late the same day after the İstanbul 1st Penal Court of Peace issued a warrant for his detention.

Ahmet Altan was arrested by an İstanbul court on Sept. 23 for allegedly “attempting a coup” and “membership in ‘FETÖ’,” a term the government coined to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement.

The Altan brothers are prominent journalists who have been unequivocally critical of the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Ahmet Altan is a novelist and former editor-in-chief of the Taraf newspaper. The daily ran headlines that led to the Ergenekon and Balyoz coup plot investigations, which helped the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government subdue the role of the military in Turkish politics. After quitting Taraf, Altan resumed writing harsh critical columns against the increasingly authoritarian AKP government and President Erdoğan.

Mehmet Altan, an economics professor at İstanbul University, is also a columnist known for his liberal views and criticism of the government amid increasing and unprecedented pressure on the media and dissidents. He was recently targeted by pro-Erdoğan columnist Hilal Kaplan for not being dismissed from his position at the university at a time when hundreds of academics and teachers were being expelled from their posts as part of an investigation into the failed coup attempt.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others.

The Turkish government has gradually tightened its control over media in the aftermath of the failed coup, with 180 media outlets closed since July 15.

The Prime Ministry’s Media Press and Information General Directorate (BYEGM) had already cancelled 115 permanent press cards and 660 press cards prior to the issuance of the latest decree. Turkish media reported that journalists working for those 23 media outlets also began to receive cancellation notices from BYEGM.

Turkish journalists holding grey service passports are obliged to apply for authorization from BYEGM to travel abroad under emergency rule.

The Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) stated on Oct. 3 that the number of journalists in Turkey who have lost their jobs since the July 15 attempted coup has reached 3,000, bringing the total number of unemployed media personnel to above 10,000.

More than 120 journalists are behind bars in Turkey, P24 reports.

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