Turkish journalists Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan’s defence attorneys were forced to leave the courtroom as their clients stood trial Monday 13 November, accused of taking part in Turkey’s failed 2016 coup. Both brothers are prominent Turkish journalists, known for their critical reporting on president Erdogan’s regime.
Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, along with Nazlı Ilıcak, also face three aggravated life sentences for supposedly committing crimes on behalf of the Gulen movement, considered a terrorist organisation after the failed coup.
The lawyers were ordered to leave on the grounds that they were speaking without permission, according to Bianet. They were prevented from making a statement of defence, at which point they were removed from the courtroom. “This incident displays the intolerance towards the defence. We’ve been taken out of the courtroom for attempting to exercise the right of defence,” lawyer Ergin Cinmen told Bianet.
“The persecution of journalists and disregard for the rule of law continues on a shocking scale in Turkey,” said Joy Hyvarinen, acting head of advocacy at Index on Censorship. “We urge the Turkish authorities to reconsider.”
Without lawyers present, the court then ruled that the Altan brothers — along with four other journalists — will remain in pretrial detention. The hearings will resume on 11 December.
Right to defence now removed as all 4 of Altans’ lawyers have been expelled from the court. #freeturkeymedia
— ARTICLE 19 ECA (@article19europe) November 13, 2017
All four defence lawyers for #AhmetAltan& #MehmetAltan now expelled in total violation of their right to a defence & fair trial. #Turkey #JournalismIsNotACrime https://t.co/MPvjhmcI7a
— PEN International (@pen_int) November 13, 2017
#Surreal: we are monitoring the #AhmetAltan #MehmetAltan trial with the defence team via twitter. All defence lawyers expelled and trial observers blocked from entering the court. This is a new low for justice in #Turkey
— Sarah Clarke (@Sarah_M_Clarke) November 13, 2017