Turkey Re-arrests Journalist a Week After His Release From a 10-year Sentence

EU says imprisonment 'further damages the credibility of Turkey’s judiciary'

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Turkish journalist and writer Ahmet Altan  speaks to journalists after being released on November 4, 2019.
Turkish journalist and writer Ahmet Altan speaks to journalists after being released on November 4, 2019. Credit: AFP

Turkish authorities have re-arrested a journalist a week after he was released from prison, where he had been serving a 10-year sentence on terror convictions.

State-run Anadolu Agency said Ahmet Altan was detained at his home late Tuesday and returned to custody after prosecutors objected to his release and a court ordered his re-arrest.

Altan together with another journalist, Nazli Ilicak, was convicted on November 4th of aiding the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuse of masterminding a 2016 failed coup. Altan’s brother, columnist Mehmet Altan, was acquitted of the charge.

Nazli Ilicak smiles next to her son Mehmet Ali Ilicak after being released from prison in Istanbul, late Monday, November 4, 2019.Credit: ,AP

The two were, however, released from prison for time already served — after three years in detention — under laws that allow early release in certain cases. They were freed on condition that they regularly report to police and don’t leave the country.

Altan and Ilicak deny the accusations that they supported the coup.

Amnesty International’s Europe director, Marie Struthers, criticized Altan's re-arrest, saying "it compounds an already shocking catalogue of injustice he has been subjected to."

Journalist and writer Ahmet Altan waves to his daughter Senem Altan as he is detained on November 12, 2019Credit: AFP

The European Union said Altan’s renewed imprisonment “further damages the credibility of Turkey’s judiciary,” which it said was soiled by a high level of political interference.

“This interference needs to halt,” EU Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. “Journalists need to do their job – they do not belong in jail.”

Altan and Ilicak were among hundreds of thousands investigated and tens of thousands arrested and charged for being allied with Gulen during a widespread crackdown that drew international condemnation.