The Constitutional Court in Ankara ruled on Thursday that the rights of journalists Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay had been violated with their "unlawful" arrests more than a year ago.
After two Istanbul criminal courts late Thursday defied the ruling and ordered that both writers should for now remain behind bars, hope turned to dismay. Over 4,000 judges and prosecutors accused of having links to the Gulen movement have been removed from their jobs, including two members of the Constitutional Court.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, however, accused the Constitutional Court of exceeding its powers by acting as a top court of appeal.
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The Constitutional Court is one of the very few public institutions in Turkey not fully controlled by Erdogan who enjoys the support of the armed forces, parliament and government. The document, the Constitutional Court responded on Twitter, was available on its website.
The court on Thursday ruled in favor of releasing the two journalists, jailed for more than year over the July 2016 attempted coup, but hours later penal courts chose to keep them in detention, state media said. "This court should not act as an appeals court".
"Today, this is still my opinion", added Gul, who helped found the ruling party with Erdogan but is now seen as a powerful, albeit hugely cautious, critic of the president.
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All imprisoned journalists should be released and acquitted after the top court's ruling, Ankara University professor Kerem Altiparmak said on Twitter.
But the top court hit back with a rare message on Twitter, noting its full ruling could be read by anyone on the internet.
"Whether we like the Constitutional Court's ruling or not, the authority that will make the right call is the first instance court", Binali Yildirim told reporters.
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Mehmet Altan, 64, has written books on Turkish politics.