The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the right to liberty and freedom of expression of Turkish journalist and writer Ahmet Altan was violated in connection with his arrest and imprisonment on charges related to the attempted coup in 2016.
Altan, 71, has been in jail since September 2016 and was detained on charges of spreading messages on a coup attempt during a TV program, as well as articles criticizing the government.
In 2018, he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, but this decision was later overturned by an appellate court.
Altan was then re-tried and sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for aiding a terrorist organization. He was briefly released due to serving his sentence but was re-arrested a day later. The appellate court is still considering the case.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Altan's right to liberty and security was violated as he was charged without reasonable suspicion.
The court found that the applicant's criticism of the president’s political approach cannot be regarded as an indication that he knew in advance about the attempted coup d'état, the ECHR said.
Consequently, the logic applied by the authorities in the present case - equating these acts with the crimes of which the applicant was charged - cannot be regarded as an acceptable assessment of the facts, the statement said.
The court ruled that Altan's freedom of expression had been violated because his detention could not be justified by law.
While the decisions of the ECHR are binding, Turkey has ignored several recent rulings, including calls for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala and pro-Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas.