Turkey: Ahmet Altan’s re-arrest is a direct attack on freedom of expression

On Tuesday 12 November, an Istanbul court decided to re-arrest Turkish writer and journalist Ahmet Altan, just eight days after he was released from prison.

Daniel Gorman, Director of English PEN, said:

“The Turkish authorities must immediately release acclaimed journalist and author Ahmet Altan and drop all remaining charges against him. This outrageous move, coming just one week after his release, is a direct attack on freedom of expression. The ongoing persecution of Altan is symptomatic of the targeting of free press in Turkey, the world’s biggest jailer of journalists.”

Case background

On 4 November 2019, Ahmet Altan was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in prison on trumped-up charges of ‘knowingly and willingly assisting a terrorist organisation’. He was released pending appeal, subject to a travel ban. On 6 November, the prosecutor appealed against the court decision on the grounds that Ahmet Altan was a flight risk. The Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 27 granted the prosecutor’s request on 12 November; Ahmet Altan was subsequently arrested at his home that evening and is now expected to be sent back to Silivri prison, near Istanbul.

Ahmet Altan has already spent over three years in pre-trial detention, in what amounts to judicial harassment. English PEN and PEN International call for his immediate and unconditional release.

Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International, said:

“Starting in July 2017 Ahmet Altan was put through proceedings marred by violations of his right to a fair trial. Then he was wrongfully detained for three gruelling years. Now he is being sent back to jail a mere eight days after being released. The latter is a despicable act: the facts together paint a dire picture of the Turkish authorities’ unstoppable determination to persecute him. PEN International forcefully calls once again for his immediate and unconditional release.”


We are gathering messages of support to share with Ahmet Altan: please send us yours via this form or to cat@englishpen.org.

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