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Turkey: Decision to re-arrest Ahmet Altan a despicable act

November 21, 2019 IN WIP
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13 November 2019 – In response to an Istanbul court decision yesterday to re-arrest Turkish writer and journalist Ahmet Altan just eight days after he was released from prison, Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International, said:

‘Starting in July 2017 Ahmet Altan was put through proceedings marred by violations of his right to a fair trial. Then he was wrongfully detained for three gruelling years. Now he is being sent back to jail a mere eight days after being released. The latter is a despicable act: the facts together paint a dire picture of the Turkish authorities’ unstoppable determination to persecute him. PEN International forcefully calls once again for his immediate and unconditional release.’ 

On 4 November 2019, Ahmet Altan was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in prison on trumped-up charges of ‘knowingly and willingly assisting a terrorist organisation’. He was released pending appeal, subject to a travel ban. On 6 November, the prosecutor appealed against the court decision on the grounds that Ahmet Altan was a flight risk. The Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 27 granted the prosecutor’s request on 12 November; Ahmet Altan was subsequently arrested at his home that evening and is now expected to be sent back to Silivri prison, near Istanbul.

Ahmet Altan has already spent over three years in pre-trial detention, in what amounts to judicial harassment. PEN International calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

For more information about PEN’s campaign on behalf of Ahmet Altan please click here.

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax  +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail:

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International