Turkey’s Constitutional Court on Jan. 11 ruled to release jailed journalists Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay, saying their rights had been violated.
Lawyer Veysel Ok, who made the application to the Constitutional Court on behalf of Şahin Alpay, said the top court’s decision could stand out as a milestone for journalist trials in Turkey.
“This ruling, which was the first application of its kind after the failed coup attempt, should set a precedent for all trials,” said Ok.
“I hope this ruling is the first step towards broader rights of freedom of expression in the country,” he added.
The two journalists, who have both been in prison for more than a year, were jailed in the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt.
Both Altan and Alpay have been accused of “links to terrorist groups” and “attempting to overthrow the government,” charges they have denied.
An Istanbul prosecutor sought in December last year aggravated life sentences for each of the six suspects in the case probing the “media wing” of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), including, Altan, his brother Mehmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and three other suspects currently under arrest who face aggravated jail terms for “violating the constitution” and “having prior knowledge of the coup.”
Around 145 journalists are in jail, according to the Turkish Journalists’ Association.
International journalism groups say that Turkey is now the world’s largest jailer of journalists.
Many of the jailed reporters have been charged with spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) or U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen’s network, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt.