The case, first filed in 2010, was relaunched after Altan’s conviction in another “insult” case was upheld in March 2018 by an appellate court
Jailed journalist and novelist Ahmet Altan was acquitted on 17 September 2019 of “insulting a public official” in the second hearing of a trial overseen by the Anadolu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.
Originally launched in 2010 upon a complaint by former public prosecutor İlhan Cihaner, currently a lawmaker with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the case concerned an article Altan penned in 2010, titled “Büyük Savaş Başladı” (The great battle has begun). The article mentioned a leaked phone conversation, previously covered by news media, between two justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals about Cihaner’s release from prison.
Cihaner later withdrew his complaint, and the case was put on hold. It was relaunched after Altan’s conviction in a case on the charge of “insulting the president” was upheld by an appellate court in March 2018.
Altan, who is jailed in the Silivri Prison, addressed the court via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBIS. P24 monitored the hearing, which began half an hour later than scheduled because of the delay in establishing a connection with Silivri Prison. Altan’s lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu was in attendance in the courtroom where members of press were also present.
The hearing began with Çalıkuşu reminding the court that a copy of Cihaner’s motion for the withdrawal of his complaint was submitted in the previous hearing. Stating that the elements of the crime her client was accused of were not present, Çalıkuşu requested Altan’s acquittal.
Judge Lokman Kazan ruled to lift Cihaner’s co-plaintiff status in the case since he had withdrawn his complaint.
Saying that Altan would not be heard since he had given his defense statement during the previous hearing and that there was no reason to prolong the trial any longer, the judge went on to issue his verdict, acquitting Altan of the “insulting a public official” charge on the grounds that the elements of the alleged offense were not present.