Turkey Continues Detention of 2 Journalists despite Court Order for their Release

Turkey Continues Detention of 2 Journalists despite Court Order for their Release

Turkey Continues Detention of 2 Journalists despite Court Order for their Release

The Ankara court ruled that the rights of Sahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan had been violated.

The pair, accused of membership in a terror organization, were expected to be released after the decision reaches the lower court.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, however, accused the Constitutional Court of exceeding its powers by acting as a top court of appeal.

"Decisions by the constitutional court are binding for everyone", the journalists' lawyer Veysel Ok wrote on Twitter. "This court should not act as an appeals court".

A court in Istanbul refused to allow the release of two journalists, defying an order from Turkey's top judiciary and further exposing fault-lines following the failed coup in 2016.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had at the time fumed over that decision, saying he had "no respect for it".

Most of its 17 members were appointed during the rule of Erdogan's predecessor Abdullah Gul or the previous president Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

Gul - whose public comments have multiplied in recent weeks amid frenetic speculation he may stand in presidential elections - also waded into the controversy. But the top court hit back with a rare message on Twitter, saying its full ruling could be read by anyone on the internet.

It was not immediately clear if any new attempt would be made to obtain the men's release.

"Whether we like the Constitutional Court's ruling or not, the authority that will make the right call is the first instance court", Binali Yildirim told reporters.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir said he was "deeply concerned" by the Istanbul courts' decision. His brother Ahmet, a novelist and journalist for some of Turkey's leading dailies, is also being held in the same case.

Altan, a professor of economics at İstanbul University and a columnist known for his liberal views and criticism of the government, and Alpay, a veteran journalist and columnist for the now-closed Zaman and Today's Zaman dailies, were jailed in a crackdown on media after an abortive coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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