Veteran Turkish journalist Alpay’s house subject to random searches even at midnight

The house belonging to veteran journalist Şahin Alpay, who was released pending trial on March 17, 2017 after spending 20 months in jail, has been subject to frequent and random searches by police even in the middle of the night, according to Alpay’s lawyer.

Alpay, a journalist and columnist at the now-closed Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies, was jailed in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over alleged links to the Gülen movement and “attempting to overthrow the government.”

“These daily searches are clear violation of the right to privacy and the right to respect for family life,” his lawyer said.

On March 17, the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court ruled for Alpay’s house arrest, judicial probation and an international travel ban. The decision came upon an application by Alpay’s lawyers, after an İstanbul high criminal court had refused to release him despite an earlier Constitutional Court ruling on Jan. 11, 2018, arguing that his right to freedom, security and freedom of expression as well as freedom of the press had been violated.

The Constitutional Court ruled at the time that Alpay, along with fellow jailed journalist Mehmet Altan, should be released due to a violation of their rights; however, local courts refused to free them, arguing that the top court’s ruling was not binding.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 256 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 11, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 197 were under arrest pending trial while only 58 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 140 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down about 200 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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