Two Turkish Journalists, Cevheri Güven and Murat Çapan, Charged with "Inciting Armed Rebellion"

Update: 26 Sep 2017 State replied
Year 05 Nov 2015 Country Turkey Category Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
05 Nov 2015 Turkey Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ Level 1

On 3 November 2015, an Istanbul court charged and imprisoned, Cevheri Güven and Murat Çapan, respectively the publisher and the editor of a weekly magazine Nokta. The detention pending trial is officially based on a serious charge: "incitement to armed rebellion against the government." The latest issue of Nokta featured the following headline on the cover: "Monday, 2 November 2015, the beginning of a civil war in Turkey." Remaining copies of the magazine have been seized by the police and Nokta's website has been blocked. Murat Çapan has already been prosecuted for "insulting the president" and "terrorist propaganda" after publishing on Nokta’s cover page on 14 September 2015 a picture of President Erdogan taking a ‘selfie’ beside a soldier’s coffin. Alert : 1 detention

Updates

24 May 2017 : On 22 May 2017, the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court sentenced Cevheri Güven and Murat Çapan to 22 years and 6 months imprisonment for “inciting people to armed revolt against the Turkish government.” and issued arrest warrants. On 24 May 2017, Murat Çapan was detained along with seven other people while attempting to illegally leave Turkey for Greece, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Güven is currently living in exile.
30 Dec 2015 : On 29 December 2015, an Istanbul court ruled for the release of Nokta magazine's editor-in-chief, Cevheri Güven, and its chief news editor, Murat Çapan, pending trial.

State replies

30 Nov 2015 : Response of the Turkish Government (information provided by the Ministry of Justice)

Follow-ups

26 Sep 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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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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