Turkish-Swedish Journalist Detained at Airport Following Request by Turkey

Update: 02 Nov 2017 Resolved
Year 09 Aug 2017 Country Spain Category Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , EFJ/IFJ , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 1
09 Aug 2017 Spain Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , EFJ/IFJ , IPI , RSF Level 1

Turkish journalist Hamza Yalçın, who also holds a Swedish passport, was detained by passport police at the El Prat airport in Barcelona on 3 August 2017, where he was vacationing. Police reported to Spanish news agency EFE that he was held by police following Interpol order, Turkish news website Diken reported. The next day he was arrested on charges of “insulting the Turkish president” and “terror propaganda” for an article he wrote for Odak magazine. A group of Swedish journalists have condemned the detention in an open letter, asking the Swedish Government to intervene. Yalçın has lived in Sweden since 1984.

Resolved On 2 November 2017, following the release of Hamza Yalçin and the decision of the Spanish Government not to extradite him to Turkey, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

29 Sep 2017 : On 29 September 2017, the Spanish Government decided not to extradite Hamza Yalçin to Turkey.
29 Sep 2017 : On 28 September 2017, a Spanish judge has granted provisional release from custody of Hamza Yalçin, after Pen International and the Barcelona City Council guaranteed to the court that they would house him in Spain while the extradition claim is being assessed.

State replies

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

09 Oct 2017 : PACE resolution on abusive recourse to the Interpol system: the need for more stringent legal safeguards

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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