Ahmet Altan released from prison after top appeals court's ruling

Prominent novelist Ahmet Altan was released from jail late on April 14 after Turkey's Court of Cassation overturned the conviction against him. The 71-year-old novelist has behind bars since September 2016, on charges related to the failed coup attempt of July 2016.

Duvar English

Turkey's Court of Cassation on April 14 overturned the convictions of prominent novelist Ahmet Altan and journalist Nazlı Ilıcak. 

The top appeals court also ordered the release of Altan from prison after nearly four and a half years behind bars.

Soon after the court's ruling, lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu announced that Altan has been released from jail and shared a photo of him on Twitter. 

"I have just welcomed Ahmet Altan...First steps to freedom," Çalıkuşu wrote. 

Altan's daughter Sanem Altan also took to Twitter to share her happiness about her father's release. She posted a photo of herself, standing next to her father and her brother Kerem Altan. 

The Court of Cassation has overturned the verdicts against Altan and Ilıcak on the fact that sentence reduction indicated in Article 220/7 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) was not implemented. 

The ruling came a day after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said that Turkey violated Altan's rights and ordered the country to pay Altan 16,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages. 

Altan and Ilıcak were accused by the authorities of knowingly supporting the 2016 failed coup attempt by spreading “subliminal messages announcing a military coup” on television.

In February 2018, they were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment, without parole, for “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.”

Following their appeal, the Court of Cassation on July 5, 2019 overruled the aggravated prison term and ruled that Altan and Ilıcak be sentenced for "intentionally aiding an armed terrorist organization," referring to the Gülen movement, which is officially called the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

Altan was then sentenced to 10 years and eight months in jail while Ilıcak received eight years and nine months. 

In November 2019, Altan and Ilıcak were released under supervision, but Altan was then re-arrested just a week later and brought back to Istanbul’s Silviri Prison. 

After a second appeal, the cases of Altan and Ilıcak were brought to the Court of Cassation.