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Turkey’s top court to review cases of 10 journalists convicted in post-coup era

Turkey’s Constitutional Court in early May will review the applications of 10 journalists, majority of whom were sentenced to prison over dubious charges of terrorism and coup involvement.

The development was reported by the Turkish media after the court announced it on its website.

The session on May 2 will focus on the complaints of journalists over the course of legal proceedings. The court will review applications of at least 10 dissident journalists, including novelist Ahmet Altan, Nazli Ilicak, Murat Sabuncu, Ahmet Sik and many others.

The Constitutional Court’s decision came after two years of legal battle launched by lawyers of the journalists. Last year, the top court only reviewed the cases of Sahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan and ruled for their release. A local court in Istanbul first refused to comply with the verdict by Constitutional Court whose rulings are binding for all subordinate courts across Turkey’s legal landscape and judicial system.

But the two journalists were finally released.

Activists, human rights organizations and legal experts believe that the charges against the dissident journalists were politically grounded. The trials lacked transparency, denial of the right to legal counsel and contained many other obstacles that imperiled the prospect of a fair trial.

Last year, Ahmet Altan and Nazli Ilicak were sentenced to life in prison over the charges of “attempting a coup against an elected government,” “trying to overthrow Turkey’s civilian government and constitutional order,” and “being a member of an armed terrorist organization.” Both the life sentence and the charges on which it was grounded were found to be baseless and inaccurate by impartial legal observers.

According to a report by Expression Interrupted, the general counsel of the court will examine the applications by journalists, who claim that the imprisonment of journalists lacks a legal basis, and their personal freedom and safety were violated after their access to the files of the legal probe were restricted. They also complained that their press freedom was violated.

The top court will reach a decision either after the first convention or in subsequent sessions discussing the claims by journalists.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has repeatedly called on Turkey’s authorities to respect media freedom and to release journalists jailed in politically-motivated trials.

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