The Plenary to finally take up the applications of journalists Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak, Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Murat Aksoy on 2 May

CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL

Applications filed on behalf of 10 journalists, including Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak, Murat Sabuncu, Akın Atalay, Kadri Gürsel, Önder Çelik, Murat Aksoy and Ahmet Şık, will be taken up by the Plenary of the Constitutional Court on 2 May 2019, according to information made available on website of the top court.

The Plenary will be reviewing the applications claiming that the pre-trial detention of the journalists are unlawful and amount to violations of the “right to personal liberty and security” and “freedom of expression and the press.”

Journalist-novelist Ahmet Altan was arrested on 10 September 2016 within the scope of an investigation into the 15 July 2016 coup attempt. The Criminal Judgeship of Peace ruled his release, only to re-arrest and send him back to prison on 23 September.

The individual application lodged on behalf of Ahmet Altan on 8 November 2016 is to be taken up by the Plenary of the Constitutional Court 10 months after it was taken up by the First Section of the Constitutional Court on 4 July 2018. The First Section then referred the application to the Plenary.

Also pending before the Plenary since 2016 is the application of Nazlı Ilıcak, who completed her 1000th day in jail this past weekend. Ilıcak is one of the co-defendants in a “coup” case, along with Ahmet Altan and his brother, economics professor Mehmet Altan. Ilıcak, the Altan brothers and three other co-defendants were given aggravated life sentence for “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” in February 2018. An appellate court upheld the convictions in September 2018. The case is now before the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The other cases that the Plenary are yet to address two years after they have been lodged are the applications of Murat Sabuncu, Akın Atalay, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Önder Çelik, all of whom have been tried and sentenced in the Cumhuriyet case. In February 2019, an appellate court upheld the court verdict which sentenced Çelik to three years and nine months Gürsel to 2.5 years on terrorism-related charges. On 26 April 2019, Çelik, along with five other co-defendants who were given less than five years in jail returned to prison as their verdict became final when upheld by the appellate court.

Gürsel on the other hand, has not returned to prison taking into consideration the amount of time he had already spent in pre-trial detention.

The case files of Atalay, who was sentenced to eight years, one month and 15 days, and Sabuncu and Şık, both sentenced to 7 years and 6 months, were referred to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Journalist Murat Aksoy on the other hand, was sentenced to two years and one month as part of the case publicly known as “the FETÖ media trial.” After his sentence was finalized by an appellate court verdict, Aksoy returned to prison on 22 November 2018 and on 4 January 2019 he was released but with judicial control measures imposed. The application that Aksoy’s lawyers filed with the Constitutional Court on 4 January 2019 will be examined three years later.

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