Turkish court orders release of reporter Sahin Alpay | News | DW | 16.03.2018
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Turkish court orders release of reporter Sahin Alpay

A Turkish court has ordered the release of prominent journalist Sahin Alpay, who was jailed in the crackdown that followed a failed coup in 2016. The ruling came after another court found his rights had been violated.

A court in Istanbul on Friday ordered the conditional release of Sahin Alpay more than a year after he was imprisoned, Turkish media reported.

The ruling bars the journalist of the now-defunct Zaman daily from leaving Turkey and confines him to his house, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. 

Alpay was jailed over alleged ties to an attempted coup in Ankara in mid-2016. He denied the charges and has sought to challenge his imprisonment.

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Trampled rights

In January, the Constitutional Court ruled Alpay and another journalist, Mehmet Altan, should be released on the grounds that their rights had been violated. But a lower court rejected that finding and the pair remained locked up.

Alpay then applied to the Constitutional Court for a second time. The outcome of that bid, decided on Friday, again found that his rights had been violated while in custody. The court also said the journalist should be paid 20,000 lira ($5,100; €4,150) in compensation.

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Anadolu reported that a similar application to the court by Altan would be examined at a later date. Last month, Altan was handed a life sentence on charges of having ties to the coup's plotters. Alpay is facing trial on the same charge — as well as a life sentence if convicted.

Both journalists have appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights. A ruling on their cases is expected next week.

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Dozens of journalists have been locked up in the aftermath of the coup attempt, alarming free speech activists and rights groups. More than 100 media outlets have been shut down, while about 160 journalists remain behind bars, according to the Turkish Journalists' Association.

Critics accuse Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of using the crackdown to eliminate opposition, but he says it's a vital step to ensure stability.

nm/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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