Refusal to free two journalists signals end of rule of law in Turkey

The journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan are still in prison, four days after Turkey’s constitutional court ordered their release. Istanbul courts refused to free them again today, continuing to defy the country’s highest court.

In terms of straying from the rule of law, Turkey is now deep into uncharted terrain. Today was the fifth time that lower courts used one pretext or another to defy the ruling that the constitutional court issued on 11 January.

“The imprisonment of Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan was already shocking and now it is illegal,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “If they are not freed very soon, it will be clear that no vestige of the rule of law remains in Turkey. We call on the European Court of Human Rights to take note. The European Court appears more than ever to be the only recourse available to Turkey’s imprisoned journalists.”

Alpay was arrested in July 2016, Altan two month later. In separate cases, both are facing possible life sentences on charges of “trying to overthrow the government” and links with “terrorist organizations.”

Many other journalists, including Deniz Yücel, Ahmet Şık, Nazlı Ilıcak and Ahmet Turan Alkan, are also being detained unjustly in Turkey.

For more information about this case see:

- RSF’s reaction to the constitutional court ruling

- The reaction of RSF and seven other NGOs to the initial refusals to execute the ruling

Published on
Updated on 15.01.2018