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Turkey arrests figurehead editor day after his release

The editor of the liberal newspaper frequently published articles criticising the Turkish government [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 September, 2016

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Turkish courts issued an arrest warrant against Ahmet Altan, who had just been released from custody the day before, on terrorism charges related to the July 15 coup attempt.

A Turkish court put a prominent journalist under arrest just a day after he was released over accusations related to the failed July coup, in a case that has sparked global concern.

Journalist and writer Ahmet Altan was detained late on Thursday, after he had been freed earlier in the day after almost two weeks behind bars.

The new arrest warrant was issued following an appeal by prosecutors.

The veteran journalist was taken to court early Friday and remanded in custody charged with "attempting to remove the government or attempting to obstruct its work", the Anadolu news agency said.

He was also charged with "being a member of a terrorist organisation", referring to the movement of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Atlan and his brother Mehmet, who was also detained, were accused of making "subliminal" messages whilst appearing on a talk show on July 14 on Turkish TV channel, Can Erzincan.

The TV station was later closed down after Istanbul's public prosecutor accused the channel of "making propaganda of a terrorist organisation" – referring to Gulen's organisation.

Earlier this month, hundreds of authors, including Orhan Pamuk, J.M. Coetzee, Salman Rushdie published a joint letter condemning the arrests.

The letter read: "Like his brother and others now in jail, his (Mehmet Altan's) crime is not supporting a coup but the effectiveness of his criticism of the current government."

Numerous Turkish human rights groups have also condemned the arrests and are calling on the courts to release the brothers.

P24, an independent journalism collective, published an editorial today, saying that the authorities had "not shown any evidence of membership [to the Gulen group]."

Turkey's Human Rights Association also condemned the arrests and the arrests of "hundreds of journalists that are currently in prison for expressing their views".

Hundreds of activists, economists and journalists have been detained since the July 15 coup.

On July 27, Turkish courts issued arrest warrants against 47 high level employees and journalists at the Turkish newspaper, Zaman.


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