Today, 9 November 2020, marks 1500 days in detention of one of Turkey’s most well-known writers and novellists.

In November 2019, Ahmet Altan was re-arrested one week after his release pending appeal on 4 November 2019. At that stage he had in effect served over three years in pre-trial detention.

In its previous observations of the Ahmet Altan and others trial, BHRC raised a number of concerns, including of serious due process shortcomings in the trial process and concluded that it was a ‘show trial’ representing a serious attack on freedom of expression. Further concerns included the role of the judiciary, its independence and relationship with the prosecution, a lack of sufficient access to defence lawyers during pre-trial detention, insufficient pre-trial disclosure and a lack of sufficient evidence to establish a prima faciecase to warrant continued detention and prosecution.

Commenting, BHRC Chair Schona Jolly said:

“BHRC has monitored  many trials in Turkey in the aftermath of the attempted coup in 2016, including that of Ahmet Altan. His own words, written in his memoir “I Will Never See the World Again” played over in my mind when I waited to see if he would finally be released this time last year. When he was, as delighted as were, there was anger about the wasted years he had spent in prison over fantastical charges, lacking any credible evidence base. Pre-trial detention has become itself a weapon that is used now in Turkey both to deter and to punish civil society and free expression, just as Turkey’s judiciary is being both punished and weaponised in a systematic attack on the rule of law itself.

Ahmet Altan wrote, “I knew one day they would come for me. Now they had.” He could not have imagined that they would come back for him again. His re-arrest, and his detention now marking 1500 days, appears politically charged in a justice system that appears increasingly cruel and compromised. He should be released, immediately, to see the world again.”

For further information see

Previous BHRC trial observations in the Altan and others case include: