Turkish Journalist Ahmet Altan Released Under Supervision
A Turkish court on Monday ordered journalist Ahmet Altan to be released under supervision after he had a life sentence quashed over alleged links to the 2016 failed coup, state news agency Anadolu reported.
The court sentenced Altan to 10 and a half years in prison, but asked for him to be freed under judicial supervision because he has alread spent more than three years behind bars, Anadolu said.
Journalist Nazli Ilicak, who also had a life sentence overturned, was sentenced to eight years and nine months, but the court ordered her release under supervision as well.
Both were accused of ties to the outlawed group of U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of ordering the failed coup targeting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.
Altan and Ilicak were sentenced to life in prison in 2018, but in July this year the Court of Cassation overturned the ruling.
#Turkey: Free finally but still condemned ! After more than 3 years of detention, the famous Turkish journalists #ahmetaltan and #NazlıIlıcak are released under judicial supervision, but RSF deplores new heavy and unjustified sentences. https://t.co/olgEUYe7tb
— RSF (@RSF_inter) November 4, 2019
The court said they should not have been tried over the attempted coup, but instead for the charge of “helping a terrorist group”, which carries a lower prison sentence.
The two journalists were sentenced for this lesser charge on Monday.
Altan, 69, is a novelist and journalist who founded the now-closed opposition Taraf newspaper.
His brother journalist Mehmet Altan was acquitted by the court on Monday after being released last year.
Ilicak, 74, is a former MP who wrote for leading newspapers including Hurriyet.
Both respected intellectuals in Turkey, Altan and Ilicak have denied any involvement in the failed coup, calling such accusations “grotesque”.
They were accused of appearing together on a pro-Gulen channel just before the attempted coup, saying an overthrow of the government was imminent.
They were both arrested during a mass crackdown on journalists that followed the coup bid.
Altan wrote a book about his time in prison called I Will Never See the World Again.
Turkey ranked 157 out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom index published by Reporters Without Borders.