EU calls for fair trial of Turkish journalists in Altan case

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Ahmet Altan (L) and Mehmet Altan

The European Union has called on Turkey to respect democratic standards and practices and to ensure that a group of journalists and writers receive a fair trial in view of the aggravated life sentences being sought by the prosecutor in their case.

An İstanbul court last Friday ruled for a continuation of the pretrial detention of media members including Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak, who are being held as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016.

The İstanbul 26th High Criminal Court ruled in accordance with a demand from the prosecutor and against the request for their release from jail by the lawyers of 17 suspects including Ilıcak, the Altan brothers, Fevzi Yazıcı, Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül and Yakup Şimşek, who have been held in pretrial detention for 11 months.

Responding to a question from Turkish Minute, an EU spokesperson said the EU has repeatedly stressed that Turkey, as a candidate country and member of the Council of Europe, is expected to respect democratic standards and practices.

“The right to a fair trial is fundamental to the rule of law, and key to ensure public confidence in the judiciary. While we understand the need for Turkey to bring the culprits of the coup attempt of 15 July to justice, any alleged wrongdoing or crime should, however, be subject to due process and the right of every individual to fair trial needs to be respected. The arrests of a large number of journalists and writers as well as the selective and arbitrary application of anti-terror legislation are a source of serious concern and have a grave impact on freedom of expression,” said the EU spokesperson, adding that the EU believes addressing these key concerns and challenges is a crucial element of a constructive and comprehensive dialogue between the EU and Turkey.

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