A lawyer from the independent journalism organization Platform 24 (P24) has announced that journalist brothers Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan who were detained on Saturday were being accused of revealing the plans for the July 15 coup attempt one day earlier.
P24 lawyer Veysel Ok announced that his clients were detained on the grounds that they announced the news about the July 15 coup attempt during a TV program on Can Erzincan TV on July 14.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others.
Altan brothers are prominent journalists who have been unequivocally critical of the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ahmet Altan is a novelist and former editor-in-chief of Taraf newspaper. The daily ran headlines that led to Ergenekon and Balyoz coup plot investigations which helped the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government tame the role of the military in Turkish politics. After quitting Taraf, Altan resumed writing harsh critical columns against the increasingly authoritarian AKP government and President Erdoğan.
Mehmet Altan, an economics professor at İstanbul University, is also a columnist known for his liberal views and criticism of the government amid increasing and unprecedented pressure on media and dissidents. He was recently targeted by pro-Erdoğan columnist Hilal Kaplan for not being dismissed from his position at the university at a time when hundreds of academics and teachers have been expelled from their posts as part of an investigation into the failed coup attempt.
Altan brothers are sons of late Çetin Altan who was a long time columnist and leftist politician.
In the meantime, detention of the Altan brothers attracted huge criticism on social media. English PEN released a statement from its Twitter account calling for the “immediate release of novelist Ahmet Altan and brother Mehmet Altan. Detained this morning.”
PEN International also released a statement on Twitter calling on Turkey to immediately release Ahmet and Mehmet Altan to uphold free speech.
Ahmet Altan’s daugher Sanem also posted a message on her Twitter account about the detention of her father and uncle.
“To those who wonder what I am going to write: It is not possible for the Altan genes to be surprised or saddened by such things on the path to democracy, no matter how unjust they are,” she wrote.