An Istanbul court has ruled that two veteran Turkish journalists will remain in prison as a part of a larger case against six journalists accused of having links to the 2016 coup attempt.
The suspects, veteran journalists Nazlı Ilıcak and Ahmet Altan, who were handed aggravated jail terms in 2016, are being retried after the Court of Cassation demanded the reversal of the previous sentences.
“I’ve been seeing a judiciary that has been committing suicide and drenched in blood for the past three years. It’s a pitiful scene,” Altan said in the hearing held at the Istanbul 26th Heavy Penal Court on Oct. 8, as he added that the court has been “trying to do the impossible since the beginning of this trial.”
“You’ve been trying to put ideas on trial. It’s impossible to achieve that. The limitlessness of ideas don’t fit into the limits of the judiciary. There are boundaries to the judiciary and those boundaries allow the trial of actions only. When you attempt to try ideas and ignore the deep differences between an action and an idea, you make ideas limited and the judiciary unlimited,” he also said.
Altan ended his words by saying, “I advise you to abide by the law and not attempt to try ideas. It’s up to you to do it or not.”
All suspects are accused of being linked to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which, under the leadership of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, is widely believed to have orchestrated the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
Thousands of people, including journalists, were either arrested or dismissed from their jobs following the botched coup.
In her address to the court, Ilıcak demanded her immediate release.
“I’m expecting you to abide by the Court of Cassation’s retrial decision. I’m 75 years old and I demand my immediate release,” she said.
The travel ban imposed on Mehmet Altan, Ahmet Altan’s brother who was also tried on the case without arrest, was lifted.
“I’ve seen all sorts of disgrace and shamefulness, and have watched them in disgust. Due to the fact that a nonsensical indictment was taken seriously, I was imprisoned for 21 months,” said Mehmet Altan, who was released upon a Constitutional Court ruling in 2018.
“I demand to be acquitted and the foreign travel ban to be lifted,” he added.
While the court lifted Altan’s travel ban, it rejected Ahmet Altan, Ilıcak and three other suspects’ requests to be released over “strong criminal suspicion.”
The next hearing in the case will be held on Nov. 4.