The European Union has criticized Turkey for the rearrest of renowned journalist Ahmet Altan, saying that the decision to arrest him one week after he was released “further damages the credibility” of the country’s judiciary.
“The lack of credible grounds to re-arrest Ahmet Altan and his renewed imprisonment, reversing the court’s initial decision to release him, further damages the credibility of Turkey’s judiciary, in particular due to the high level of political interference,” said Maja Kocijančič, the spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in a written statement on Nov. 13.
“This interference needs to halt,” she added.
Altan was released on Nov. 4 after serving three years in prison in a case related to a failed 2016 coup, which was followed by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office appealing the ruling.
On Nov. 12 a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest given the gravity of the crimes and the risk of him fleeing.
He was detained by anti-terror police later on the same day, before being arrested on Nov. 13.
In the statement, the spokesperson said that Altan had not been served the rearrest warrant when some media were already reporting on it.
“Media freedom and freedom of expression are key to a functioning democracy. The EU has at all levels and in all fora expressed its opposition on the persistent erosion of press freedom in Turkey and, in particular, at the high number of journalists imprisoned there,” the statement read.
“Journalists need to do their job – they do not belong in jail.”