Ahmet Altan

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Ahmet Altan
Ahmet Hüsrev Altan

(1950-03-02) March 2, 1950 (age 73)
Ankara, Turkey
EducationRobert College
Ankara College
Middle East Technical University
Istanbul University
Occupation(s)Editor-in-chief and lead columnist of Taraf (2007–2012)
ParentÇetin Altan (father)
RelativesMehmet Altan (brother)

Ahmet Hüsrev Altan (born 2 March 1950) is a Turkish journalist and author. A working journalist for more than twenty years, he has served in all stages of the profession, from being a night shift reporter to editor in chief in various newspapers.


He was born 1950 in Ankara, Turkey to the notable journalist and writer Çetin Altan as the first of two sons. His brother Mehmet Altan is also a journalist, writer and university professor of political economy.


In addition to having written columns in several Turkish newspapers, including Hürriyet, Milliyet and Radikal, Altan has produced news programming for television.

He was fired from Milliyet after writing a column on 17 April 1995 titled "Atakürt", which presented an alternate history of Turkey as a Kurdish state ("Kürdiye") in which ethnic Turks are oppressed and forced to assimilate.[1][2] For the same column he received a suspended sentence to an imprisonment of 1 year and 8 months and fined about $12'000.[3]

In 2007 he became the founding editor-in-chief and lead columnist of the Taraf, a daily Turkish newspaper, and remained in the position until his resignation in December 2012.

In September 2008, when Altan published an article titled "Oh, My Brother" dedicated to the victims of the Armenian genocide he was charged under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for "denigrating Turkishness". The judicial claim was initiated by the far-right "Great Union Party."[4][5]

Altan, along with some of his Taraf associates, usually carried a firearm for self-protection.[6]

As the editor of Taraf, Altan was accused of working to silence allegations of the Gülen movement cheating in compulsory public servants’ examinations in Turkey to further their power in the state.[7]

On December 14, 2012, Ahmet Altan resigned his post as editor-in-chief of Taraf. With him stepped down his assistant editor Yasemin Çongar, and Neşe Tüzel. The next day, the three departing journalists were joined by columnist Hadi Uluengin.[8]


Yasemin Çongar accepts the Geschwister Scholl Prize for Ahmet Altan.

During Turkey's media purge after the failed July 2016 coup d'état on September 23, 2016, Altan, was arrested. He is accused of sending "subliminal messages" to encourage 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt planners.[9]

In September 2017, while banned from written communications, Altan produced an essay The Writer's Paradox in which he says: 'I am writing these words from a prison cell ... But wait. Before you start playing the drums of mercy for me listen to what I will tell you ... They may have the power to imprison me but no one has the power to keep me in prison. I am a writer.' The essay was published on 18 September 2017, on the eve of Altan's trial: in English by The Society of Authors (translated by Yasemin Çongar) and in the original Turkish by English PEN.[10][11][12]

As the trial began, many authors spoke out in support of Altan. Neil Gaiman said "I hope that everyone who can read, whatever their politics, reads Ahmet Altan's response to his imprisonment. Repressive regimes hope that if they lock up writers they are also locking up ideas. This will always fail." Joanne Harris said "Writers exist to question, to challenge, sometimes even to ridicule - the status quo. For a government to imprison a writer for doing this is to attack, not only freedom of speech, but freedom of the imagination. It is a backward, oppressive and ultimately futile gesture that can only lead to greater and more damaging social unrest."[13]

On 16 February 2018, Ahmet, along with his brother Mehmet Altan, was sentenced to life imprisonment.[14] From prison, he wrote notes he gave to his lawyers,[15] and published his memoirs under the title I Will Never See the World Again,[16] translated into English by Yasemin Çongar. The book was longlisted for the 2019 Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction [17] and is published in 17 countries around the world.[18] But it is not published in Turkish as Altan has concern about the safety of the publisher.[18]

On 4 November 2019 Altan was sentenced to 10 years and 6 months imprisonment by the court of cassation, but then the court ordered his release on probation.[19] On 12 November 2019 the police detained him again after a ruling reversing his release.[20]

On the 25 of November 2019, Altan was awarded the Geschwister Scholl Prize, a literary award of the Bavarian branch of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.[21]

Altan was released from prison on 14 April 2021 after order by the Court of Cassation.[22]


  • 1983, Akademi Bookstore Literature Awards, First Prize in the category of “Novel”[23]
  • 1998, Yunus Nadi Literature Prize in the category of ‘’Novel’’
  • 2011, International Hrant Dink Award
  • 2013, Turkish Publishers Association, Freedom of Thought and Expression Prize
  • 2017, Istanbul Human Rights Association Ayşe Nur Zarakolu Freedom of Thought and Expression Prize
  • 2019, Geschwister Scholl Preis[24]



  • I will never see the world again, (Other Press, 2019), translated by Yasemin Çongar ISBN 9781783785155[25]


  • Kılıç Yarası Gibi (1997, Can Yayınları), the first novel in the Ottoman Quartet. Published in English in a translation by Brendan Freely and Yelda Türedi as Like a Sword Wound (2018, Europa Editions)[26]
  • Dört Mevsim Sonbahar (Four Seasons of Autumn)
  • Yalnızlığın Özel Tarihi (A Private History of Loneliness)
  • Sudaki İz (Trace on the Water)
  • Aldatmak (Cheating)
  • İsyan Günlerinde Aşk (1998, Can Yayınları), the second novel in the Ottoman Quartet.
    • Love in the Days of Rebellion, translation by Brendan Freely and Yelda Türedi (2020, Europa Editions) ISBN 9781787702479[27]
  • En Uzun Gece (The Longest Night)
  • Tehlikeli Masallar (Dangerous Tales)
  • Son Oyun (2013, Everest publications), translated into English by Alexander Dawe and published as Endgame in 2016
  • Ölmek Kolaydır Sevmekten (2015, Everest Yayinlari), the third novel in the Ottoman Quartet.[28]

Collections of essays[edit]

  • Gece Yarısı Şarkıları (Midnight Songs)
  • İçimizde Bir Yer (Somewhere Inside Us)
  • Karanlıkta Sabah Kuşları (Morning Birds in Darkness)
  • Kristal Denizaltı (Crystal Submarine)
  • Ve Kırar Göğsüne Bastırırken (And He Breaks While Holding Down To His Chest)


  1. ^ Altan, Ahmet (1995-04-17). "Atakurd". Milliyet. Archived from the original on 2016-10-21. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  2. ^ Hurriyet Daily News, 8 April 2013, Famous writer Ahmet Altan back with new book
  3. ^ Callow, Simon (2019-03-13). "I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan review – writing behind bars". The Guardian. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  4. ^ A trial against the journalist who wrote about the Genocide Archived 2012-02-13 at the Wayback Machine, Azg daily, Sept. 2008.
  5. ^ Onderoglu, Erol (12 September 2008). "Writer And Journalist Ahmet Altan Charged With Insulting Turkish Nation". Bianet. Archived from the original on 13 September 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2008.
  6. ^ Hansen, Suzy (2009-01-02). "Eye of the storm". The National Newspaper. Abu Dhabi Media Company. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2009-01-02. Ahmet carries a gun. But he always carried a gun. Alev carries a gun. These guys like guns, it's not like they have to carry guns. But it also shows me that they feel more secure having a gun. They don't want a bodyguard after them all the time.
  7. ^ "Ahmet Altan Taraf'ın o manşetini savundu: Bu şifre palavra!". Medyafaresi.com. April 6, 2011. Archived from the original on May 13, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  8. ^ "Taraf'ta istifa depremi". Hürriyet Gündem (in Turkish). 2012-12-15. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  9. ^ "Ahmet Altan tutuklandı". NTV. 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  10. ^ On eve of trial, Ahmet Altan writes how imagination sustains him in Turkish jail, The Guardian, Alison Flood, 18 September 2017
  11. ^ "The Writer's Paradox | The Society of Authors". www.societyofauthors.org. Archived from the original on 2019-12-15. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  12. ^ "Yazarın paradoksu - English PEN". Archived from the original on 2017-09-21. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  13. ^ "Call for messages of support for Ahmet Altan | The Society of Authors". www.societyofauthors.org. Archived from the original on 2019-12-15. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  14. ^ Shaheen, Kareem (2018-02-16). "Turkey sentences journalists to life in jail over coup attempt". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  15. ^ "I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan review – writing behind bars | Books | The Guardian". TheGuardian.com. 13 March 2019.
  16. ^ "I Will Never See the World Again". Archived from the original on 2019-12-11. Retrieved 2019-09-17 – via www.otherpress.com.
  17. ^ Flood, Alison (2019-09-12). "Turkish author jailed for life nominated for £50,000 book award". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  18. ^ a b "Imprisoned Turkish journalist writes memoir on bits of paper and has it smuggled out | CBC Radio". CBC. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  19. ^ "Verdict of Release for Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak, Acquittal for Mehmet Altan". Binet. 4 November 2019. Retrieved 4 November 2019.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Turkish Journalist Ahmet Altan detained days after release". Ahval. Archived from the original on 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  21. ^ "Geschwister-Scholl-Preis für Ahmet Altan | DW | 25.11.2019". DW.COM (in German). Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  22. ^ "Turkey releases writer Ahmet Altan after more than four years in prison". The Guardian. 14 April 2021. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  23. ^ "Ahmet Altan - Official Site". Archived from the original on 2019-10-02. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  24. ^ "Ahmet Altan: Inhaftierter türkischer Journalist bekommt Geschwister-Scholl-Preis" (in German). ISSN 0174-4909. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  25. ^ 21 Books to Curl Up With This Fall , Newsweek
  26. ^ Altan, Ahmet. "Like a Sword Wound". www.europaeditions.com. Europa Editions. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  27. ^ Altan, Ahmet. "Love in the Days of Rebellion". www.europaeditions.com. Europa Editions. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  28. ^ Altan, Ahmet. "Ölmek Kolaydır Sevmekten". www.everestyayinlari.com. Everest Publications. Retrieved 28 December 2020.

External links[edit]