Mehmet Altan, a professor of Economics at Istanbul University (where he had taught for over 30 years) and a prolific writer, was convicted, along with his brother, Ahmet, and a journalist, Nazli Ilicak for their alleged involvement in a 2016 failed military coup in Turkey. It is alleged that they sent “subliminal messages” regarding the failed coup attempt while on a television show. It seems, however, that they were more likely charged due to their political writings. Mehmet has recently been released awaiting appeal. CCS has written the Minister of Justice urging the charges be dismissed.
Mr. Bekir Bozdağ
Minister of Justice
06659 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 33 70
Dear Minister Bozdağ:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern for Mehmet Altan, a professor of economics who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in February 2018 of involvement in the failed coup of July 2016. He was convicted with his brother Ahmet Altan, a journalist, as well as with Nazli Ilicak, another journalist.
The basis for the charges in this case, was that Altan, his brother and another journalist, sent “subliminal” messages regarding the failed coup attempt on a television show.
Mehmet Altan was a professor at Istanbul University for over 30 years and also a prolific writer. It seems that his conviction, and that of his brother and Nazli Ilicak, was based on their writings, and the peaceful expression of their political beliefs.
Turkey as a member of the Council of Europe and having been a signatory to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe would require Turkey to defend the rights to freedom of expression and association, rights which are also guaranteed in the Turkish Constitution.
We urge that the charges against our colleague, professor Mehmet Altan and the other defendants dropped, and that their convictions and sentences be dismissed.
We thank you for your attention to this most serious matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador Serdar Kiliç
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Avenue. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 1 202 612 6700 OR 202 612 6701
Fax: 1 202 612 6744