The Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled that the house arrest of Şahin Alpay, a former columnist for the now-defunct Zaman daily, in 2018 constituted a violation of his right to personal liberty and security as per Article 19 of the Constitution.
The top court ordered the state to pay 20,000 liras in compensation to Alpay, online news outlet T24 reported on Jan. 7.
“The decision to confine him to house arrest continued to intervene in his right to personal liberty and security. No justification, such as the discovery of new evidence, existed. The violation was not lifted by local courts. Despite the lack of a strong suspicion that he committed a crime, the continuation of his deprivation from freedom was against the Constitution,” the top court said in its detailed ruling on Jan. 7.
This is the third time that the top court ruled Alpay's right had been violated.
Alpay was held by authorities for 20 months after being accused of involvement in the failed coup attempt of July 2016. Prosecutors accused him of being a member of the Gülen network, referred to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) by the government.
In January 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that Alpay's rights had been violated and requested his release. However, lower courts refused to comply with the request and kept Alpay in jail.
Alpay was only released in March 2018 after the Constitutional Court issued another ruling in his favor. Two months later in May 2018, the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul lifted Alpay's house arrest.
Alpay was later convicted of “membership in a terrorist group,” but he was not rearrested pending an appeal.
In September 2020, the Court of Cassation overturned the sentence handed down to Alpay.