Turkish Court Rules to Keep Journalists, Altan Brothers in Jail

In an interim decision on Monday, an Istanbul court ruled to keep 17 journalists, including Mehmet Altan, a professor of economics, and his younger brother, writer Ahmet Altan, in jail, rejecting calls for their release in a media trial that captured the attention of the international community.

The Monday hearing devolved into tense moments at Istanbul Caglayan Courthouse. Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court Chief Judge Kemal Selcuk Yalcin, who oversees the case into 17 journalists and writers, decided forceful removal of lawyers of the Altan brothers from the courtroom.

When lawyers Ergin Cinmen, Figen Calikusu, Ferat Cagil and Melike Polat demanded to offer an assessment before the announcement of the interim decision, the court chief judge asked for their ejection and refused to give to a chance to the defense to express themselves.

During the hearing, former lawmaker and journalist Nazli Ilicak also asked for her release citing her poor health and age. The 72-year-old veteran journalist refused coup-related and terrorism charges.

The court rejected release demands of all 17 defendants and ruled to keep them in prison.

The decision created a disappointment for observers of the trial.

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