Turkish writer Ahmet Altan released from prison: Lawyer

Altan was jailed for his alleged involvement in a failed 2016 coup attempt [File: Bulent Kilic/AFP]

Turkish writer and journalist Ahmet Altan has been released from prison, his lawyer said, after the country’s top appeals court overturned a verdict against him.

The development came on Wednesday, a day after Europe’s human rights court said his detention for more than four years had violated his rights.

The 71-year-old Altan has been in prison in western Istanbul since September 2016 on charges related to an attempted coup in July 2016.

He was arrested for allegations that he disseminated subliminal messages related to the coup attempt during a TV programme, as well as articles he had written criticising the government.

Altan denied the charges, which he and his lawyer said were politically motivated.

He was sentenced to life in jail in 2018 without parole for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order but the ruling was overturned by the Court of Cassation, the top appeals court.

Altan was then re-tried and sentenced to more than 10 years for aiding “a terrorist organisation”.

He was briefly released due to time served but re-arrested later after the prosecutor objected.

Altan was released again on Wednesday due to time served after the Court of Cassation overturned the second ruling, his lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu said.

“This has been a judicial persecution that went on for longer than four years and seven months. Ahmet Altan was held with a completely empty file,” she said.

“He was considered the perpetrator of the coup attempt for articles he wrote,” Çalıkuşu added.

Çalıkuşu posted a picture of Altan on Twitter, saying: “I just welcomed Ahmed Altan … First step to freedom …”

The ECHR ruled Altan’s right to liberty and security had been violated since he was accused without reasonable suspicion.

The court ordered Turkey to release him and pay him 16,000 euros ($19,000) in damages for violating his rights to freedom of expression.

Altan’s case was one of those considered to be symbolic of the crackdown on dissent under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the attempted coup.

Ankara says the measures were necessary given the security threats facing Turkey.

Turkey accused Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen of orchestrating the coup. Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, has denied involvement.

Source: News Agencies