Turkey: Journalist Ahmet Altan freed after more than four years in prison

A Turkish court has released journalist Ahmet Altan after serving more than four years in prison on charges of involvement in the failed 2016 coup attempt. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) welcomed this long-waited decision but condemned his illegal detention and urged the Turkish government to stop the systematic imprisonment of journalists.


Journalist and author Ahmet Altan was jailed after writing pieces critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the context of the wider purge of political opponents after the failed 2016 coup attempt. In particular, Ahmet Altan's arrest followed the publication of political articles in support of Kurdish rights. 

Ahmet Altan was imprisoned from 2016 to 2019 for “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” then re-arrested and imprisoned in 2019 for “assisting a terrorist organisation.

On the 14 of April, the court of cassation overturned Altan's 10-and-a-half-year prison sentence and ordered his release. The court's ruling came a day after the European court of human rights (ECHR) accused Turkey of violating civil rights and demanded the release of the 71-year-old man. 

According to the IFJ/EFJ affiliate TGS, Turkey is the biggest journalists' jailer in the world, with up to 43 journalists in prison. According to the Turkish Association of Journalists (GCD), one in six journalists has an ongoing trial.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger said  “Ahmet Altan was often held up as a symbol of attacks on freedom of expression in Turkey. We welcome his release but stress that he was a victim of the Turkish campaign to send journalists to jail on trumped-up charges.

EFJ General Secretary, Ricardo Gutiérrez said: "This excellent news must be followed by other good news. We call on the Turkish authorities to release without any delay the 43 other journalists who currently remain in prison, just for doing their job!".

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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