The Council of Europe has said it is closely following the consequences of the Turkish Constitutional Court ruling that the jailing of journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan during trial violates their constitutional rights.
“The Constitutional Court has on several occasions upheld the principles of the #ECHR and ruled in line with the case law of the #Strasbourg Court, in particular regarding #freedomofexpression. We are closely observing what happens now,” Council of Europe spokesperson Daniel Holtgen wrote on his Twitter account on Jan. 15.
The Constitutional Court on Jan. 11 had ruled that Altan and Alpay – who have both been in prison for more than a year so far, were jailed in the aftermath of the coup attempt – must be released from jail, stating that their continued imprisonment violated their constitutional rights.
The Constitutional Court’s rulings are legally binding for lower courts, which are not free to recognize or dismiss its decisions.
However, the two Istanbul High Criminal Courts where Alpay and Altan are being tried resisted the Constitutional Court’s ruling, saying the verdict had not yet been published in the Official Gazette.
The lawyers of the two journalists appealed to both the Constitutional Court and a higher local court about this refusal to apply the decision. However, on Jan. 15 the 14th Istanbul High Criminal Court and the Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court denied the appeal, ruling for the continuation of his detention.
The two journalists, who have both been in prison for more than a year so far, were jailed in the aftermath of the coup attempt. Both Altan and Alpay are accused of “links to terrorist groups” and “attempting to overthrow the government,” charges they have denied.