Six Journalists Detained Without Explanation

Update: 06 Dec 2017 No state reply yet
Year 10 Jan 2017 Country Turkey Category Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
10 Jan 2017 Turkey Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 1
No state reply yet

Journalists and media workers Tunca Öğreten (freelance), Mahir Kanaat (BirGün daily), Ömer Celik (DIHA news director), Metin Yoksa (DIHA correspondent), Eray Saygin (Yolculuk daily) and Derya Okatan (ETHA) have been detained by Turkish authorities on 25 December 2016 at 04:30 from their homes in Istanbul, Ankara and Diyarbakır. Derya Okatan (ETHA) is on hunger strike against “state of emergency rulings” since 25 December and Ömer Celik (DIHA) was allegedly beaten during his arrest. Under the state of emergency, Turkish authorities have extended the detention period from 4 to 30 days and lawyers have no access to journalists for more than 5 days. No official reason has been given for these arrests and the journalists claim that they are being badly treated in detention.

Updates

06 Dec 2017 : On 6 December 2017 Tunca Öğreten and Mahir Kanaat were released on probation.The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 3 April 2018.
25 Oct 2017 : On 24 October 2017, the 29th Istanbul Court for severe crimes issued an interim judgement after the first hearing of the six journalists' trial. The court ruled to release Ömer Çelik. Öğreten and Kanaat are to remain in detention on remand. The journalists are charged with "being a member of an armed terrorist organisation", "propagandising for a terrorist organisation", "blocking, damaging information system" and "altering or destroying data".
18 Jan 2017 : On 18 January 2017, three of the six journalists were arrested (Tunca Öğreten, Mahir Kanaat and Ömer Celik). The other three were released under judiciary control (Metin Yoksa, Eray Saygin and Derya Okatan).

Follow-ups

01 Oct 2017 : The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights recalls that any restrictions on access to Internet content should be based on a clear and predictable framework affording guarantee of judicial oversight to prevent possible abuses.

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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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