Famous Turkish author and journalist Ahmet Altan, who was jailed in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, has been acquitted in a trial in which he faced charges of insulting the president.
Altan stood trial for an article he wrote in the now-closed Taraf daily in 2012 which was titled, “State abetment and ethics.”
Current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was prime minister at the time. The case against Altan was filed after Erdoğan was elected president in 2014.
During the final hearing of his trial on Thursday at the İstanbul 21st Penal Court of First Instance, Altan said, “The insult accusation has begun to serve as a shield behind which politicians use to silence every kind of criticism.”
The court ruled for Altan’s acquittal. Commenting on the verdict, Altan said, “You have made a very valuable judgment for freedom of expression, esteemed judge.”
In his article, Altan criticized the government for the killing of 34 Kurdish citizens, known as the Uludere incident, in late 2011 by Turkish jets after they were mistaken for terrorists near Uludere in the southeastern Turkish province of Şırnak.
In February, Altan along with five others including his brother Mehmet Altan were handed down aggravated life sentences on charges of attempting to destroy the constitutional order in a development that attracted widespread criticism from human rights and press freedom organizations all around the world.