Ahmet Altan

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Ahmet Altan
A page from ahmet altan's kristal denizaltı (120800397).jpg
A page from Ahmet Altan's Kristal Denizaltı
Ahmet Hüsrev Altan

(1950-03-02) March 2, 1950 (age 69)
Ankara, Turkey
EducationRobert College
Ankara College
Middle East Technical University
Istanbul University
OccupationEditor-in-chief and lead columnist of Taraf (2007–2012)
RelativesÇetin Altan (father)
Mehmet 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 economy politics.


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]

In 2007 he became the founding editor-in-chief and lead columnist of 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."[3][4]

Altan, along with some of his Taraf associates, usually carried a firearm for self-protection.[5]

As the editor of Taraf, Altan worked to silence the allegations of the Gülen movement cheating in compulsory public servants’ examinations in Turkey to further their power in the state.[6]

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 journalist were joined by columnist Hadi Uluengin.[7]


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.[8]

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.[9][10][11]

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." and 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."[12]

On 16 February 2018, Ahmet, along with his brother Mehmet, was sentenced to life imprisonment.[13] From prison, he wrote notes he gave to his lawyers,[14] and published his memoirs under the title I Will Never See the World Again (Other Press, 2019),[15] translated in English by Yasemin Çongar.



  • Kılıç Yarası Gibi (Like a Sword Wound)
  • 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 (Love in the Days of Rebellion)
  • En Uzun Gece (The Longest Night)
  • Tehlikeli Masallar (Dangerous Tales)
  • Son Oyun (Endgame) (translated into English by Alexander Dawe, 2016)

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. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  2. ^ Hurriyet Daily News, 8 April 2013, Famous writer Ahmet Altan back with new book
  3. ^ A trial against the journalist who wrote about the Genocide, Azg daily, Sept. 2008.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Ahmet Altan Taraf'ın o manşetini savundu: Bu şifre palavra!". Medyafaresi.com. April 6, 2011.
  7. ^ "Taraf'ta istifa depremi". Hürriyet Gündem (in Turkish). 2012-12-15. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  8. ^ "Ahmet Altan tutuklandı". NTV. 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  9. ^ On eve of trial, Ahmet Altan writes how imagination sustains him in Turkish jail, The Guardian, Alison Flood, 18 September 2017
  10. ^ "The Writer's Paradox | The Society of Authors". www.societyofauthors.org.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-09-21. Retrieved 2017-09-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Call for messages of support for Ahmet Altan | The Society of Authors". www.societyofauthors.org.
  13. ^ Shaheen, Kareem (2018-02-16). "Turkey sentences journalists to life in jail over coup attempt". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  14. ^ "I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan review – writing behind bars | Books | The Guardian".
  15. ^ "I Will Never See the World Again" – via www.otherpress.com.

External links[edit]