VIENNA—The Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir has welcomed a Jan. 11 ruling by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to release two journalists, calling it a step of vital importance in improving media freedom and freedom of expression in the country.
“[The Jan. 11] decision by the Constitutional Court states that the detention of journalists violates the Constitution of Turkey,” Désir said in a statement. “I trust that besides giving back freedom to journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan, whose release I called for earlier, this landmark decision also paves the way for the judiciary to urgently release all imprisoned journalists in the country,” the statement went on.
The Constitutional Court decided that the rights of imprisoned journalists Alpay and Altan have been violated, and that their detention was unjust. Writer and journalist Alpay has been detained since July 27, 2016, and is suffering from multiple health problems, while author and journalist Altan has been in detention since Sept. 22, 2016.
“I trust that the decision, the full text of which is expected to be published soon, will emphasize the importance of protecting freedom of expression and will thus pave the way for the release of all journalists in Turkey,” Désir said. “It is of utmost importance that Turkey changes course and starts protecting the work of journalists, and through it the right of the public to access pluralistic information on issues affecting their lives.”
Turkey has arrested more than 150 journalists since last year’s failed military coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. The country holds the record for most jailed journalists.