Journalist DefenseNews

Constitutional Court says journalist Ataman’s application “openly unfounded”

Ziya Ataman

High Court says there are no grounds to the claim that Ataman’s three-year-long detention is unreasonably long

The Turkish Constitutional Court has rejected an application filed by Kurdish journalist Ziya Ataman who has been imprisoned for three years on unclear charges and with no evidence, saying that his claims that his right to liberty and security of person and his right to a fair trial have been violated were openly lacking grounds.

The decision, filed by lawyers of the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), which represents the former Dicle News Agency journalist, was issued on 16 April. It stated: “It has been understood that “ it is clear that no violation has occurred within the guarantees protected by Article 19 of the Constitution.”

The ruling said the applicant’s claim that his detention of three years was unlawful and that it has  has lasted unreasonably long “is openly devoid of grounds.” With regards to the applicant’s claim that is arrest has been unlawful, the Constitutional Court not all available legal remedies have been exhausted.

MLSA Legal Team head Veysel Ok said, “Our client was clearly targeted for his journalistic activities. He has been in prison for three years with absolutely no evidence against him. This decision however, opens the way for an application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). We will continue to seek justice for Ziya using international mechanisms available.”

Lawyer Barış Oflas said, “Ziya has been imprisoned for three years. It is hard to understand that our application was found ‘devoid of grounds’ although he has been in prison for such a long time. But this ruling effectively means that we have exhausted all domestic remedies, and we will be going to the ECtHR.”

Who is Ziya Ataman?

Former Dicle News Agency (DİHA) journalist Ziya Ataman was arrested on 11 April 2016 in relation to claims that he was involved in an undescribed manner in clashes that took place in Şırnak’s Beytüşşebap district in 2015, with no evidence linking him to the scene of those incidents. The single witness who testified against him has long withdrawn testimony, saying it was extracted under torture. Prior to being a correspondent, Ataman worked as a distributor for various Kurdish-language publications and received threats for doing this work.