Media freedom alerts

 

Investigative Journalists Detained in Bulgaria

Resolved
Year 17 Sep 2018 Country Bulgaria Category Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner IPI , AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
17 Sep 2018 Bulgaria Detention and imprisonment of journalists State IPI , AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 1

Dimitar Stoyanov, a reporter for the Bulgarian investigative journalism website Bivol, and Attila Biro of RISE Project Romania, were taken into custody for several hours by authorities in Radomir, western Bulgaria, on the evening of 13 September 2018, as they attempted to prevent and document the destruction of material related to a mass fraud investigation. On 10 September 2018, Bivol had published a report detailing what it described as “large-scale and wide-spread corruption” in EU-funded projects in Bulgaria worth hundreds of millions of Bulgarian leva. The site based its findings on accounting documents from “a network of consultancy firms linked to large construction companies”. After publishing, the site began to receive tips that one of the firms cited in the report, the GP Group, was moving documentation and equipment from its headquarters in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital. The site said that it informed the authorities but that the moving continued. On 13 September, Bivol received information that the material was being destroyed near Radomir. After informing the authorities again, Stoyanov and Biro travelled to the site, where they found official documents related to EU projects being burned. Shortly after arrival, however, local police arrested both journalists and refused to release them despite being presented with press cards. Police also confiscated the pair’s mobile phones and did not allow them to make calls. They were eventually released in the early hours of 14 September and their phones were returned to them. On 14 September, the head of Bulgaria’s anti-mafia police force apologized for the incident, which he attributed to poor communication with local police, although Bivol said that members of the force with knowledge of the context were at the scene and could have intervened. Bivol also rejected the Bulgarian Interior Ministry’s claim that the journalists had only been taken in for questioning, supplying photographs of an arrest warrant.

Resolved On 15 November 2018, the Administrative Court of Pernik ruled that the detention orders for Bivol’s journalists Dimitar Stoyanov and Attila Biro had been illegal. On 6 December 2018, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

28 Nov 2018 : On 15 November 2018, the Administrative Court of Pernik ruled that the detention orders for Bivol’s journalist Dimitar Stoyanov and Attila Biro had been illegal.

State replies

Follow-ups

28 Nov 2018 : OSCE Representative welcomes court ruling that police detention of investigative journalists Atilla Biro & Dimitar Stoyanov in Bulgaria was illegal.

Political Interference in Editorial Autonomy of Public Broadcaster

Update: 06 Dec 2018 Resolved
Year 10 May 2016 Country Slovenia Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
10 May 2016 Slovenia Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 6 May 2016, the largest opposition political party in Slovenia, Slovenia Democratic Party (SDS), requested the Committee for Culture of the National Assembly to discuss "bias reporting" on the public television RTV Slovenia. This political discussion would be targeting specific journalists who are considered critic of the party and are accused of not reporting objectively on the refugee crisis, the protests against migrants or the SDS proposal about creating a national guard. The Slovenian Association of Journalists asked the President of the Committee for Culture to reject the demand of SDS, stating that such a debate in a political forum would be an interference in the editorial autonomy of RTV Slovenia.

Resolved On 6 December 2018, considering the fact that the Chairman of the Committee for Culture of the National Assembly decided not to convene the discussion requested by the SDS, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

06 Jun 2016 : In May 2016, the Chairman of the Committee for Culture of the National Assembly, Dragan Matić, decided not to convene the discussion requested by the SDS.

Bulgarian Journalist Georgi Ezekiev, Zov News Website Publisher, Receives Death Threat in a Filmed Interview

Update: 06 Dec 2018 Resolved
Year 29 Nov 2017 Country Bulgaria Category Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner RSF Alert level Level 1
29 Nov 2017 Bulgaria Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state RSF Level 1

The alleged murder plan came to light earlier this month in the course of a joint investigation by Zov News and the investigative news website Bivol into a drug trafficking ring in which police officers are thought to be implicated. A person who used to be involved in this network told the reporters in a filmed interview that his former mafia bosses were planning to eliminate Georgi Ezekiev, the publisher of Zov News website. One of the reporters participating in this investigation, Maria Dimitrova, meanwhile received threatening messages by SMS and on Facebook.

Resolved On 6 December 2018, after consideration of the authorities’ responses to this alert, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

Bulgaria: Investigative journalist attacked

State replied
Year 14 May 2018 Country Bulgaria Category Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 1
14 May 2018 Bulgaria Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 1

On 10 May 2018, investigative journalist Hristo Geshov was attacked and assaulted outside his home in the town of Cherven Bryag in northwestern Bulgaria, desant.net reports. “I attribute this attack entirely to my investigative reporting and to the warnings I sent to the authorities about the management of finances by the Cherven Bryag municipal government,” Geshov wrote in a Facebook post a few hours after being punched in the stomach and back by an unidentified assailant. “Despite the pain and many bruises, I am sure that I will not abandon my work, and the attack against me is a sign that I am right,” he added. Geshov writes for the regional investigative reporting website Za Istinata, works with the journalistic online platform “About the Truth” and hosts a programme called “On Target” that is available on YouTube. He began being harassed after a series of articles about municipal government irregularities in Cherven Bryag in which he claimed, inter alia, that three municipal councillors were using European Union funds to renovate their homes. Reporters Without Borders condemns the attack. “This attack is indicative of the degree to which investigative reporters are now being targeted by groups that want to silence them and impose terror,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk. “We hail the swift reaction of the police and medical services, but the Bulgarian authorities must also provide physical protection to journalists who, like Hristo Geshov, are the targets of threats of this kind.”

State replies

Former Prime Minister Publicly Insults Two Journalists

Update: 28 Nov 2018 Resolved
Year 24 Mar 2016 Country Slovenia Category Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
24 Mar 2016 Slovenia Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2

On 21 March 2016, the former Prime Minister of Slovenia and current leader of the main opposition party (SDS), Janez Jansa, insulted on his personal Twitter account a journalist and an editor from TV Slovenija (TVS), the Slovenian public broadcaster. They had broadcasted a story on the increase of hate speech against refugees and migrants in the country, including within SDS. On 21 March, at 7:43 pm, Janez Jansa posted a tweet naming the two journalists and comparing them to “disused prostitutes for 30 and 35 euros”. The Slovene Association of Journalists (DNS) and TVS journalists strongly condemned this public attack.

Resolved On 1st April 2016, an urgent session was held by the Committee on Culture of the Slovenian National Assembly. It condemned verbal attacks as a form of political pressure on journalists and the media and proposed to the President of the National Assembly to adopt a Code of Ethics for the Members of the Parliament "with a view to rejecting verbal abuse and other forms of offensive behaviour". On 13 September 2016, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

28 Nov 2018 : On 23 November 2018, the court of Celje sentenced Janez Jansa to a three-month suspended jail sentence for insulting two female journalists. It also ruled that the politician must pay the costs of the proceedings stemming from the 2016 incident. Jansa’s lawyer has said he will appeal the ruling.

State replies

Follow-ups

28 Nov 2018 : OSCE representative welcomes conviction of senior politician in Slovenia for Tweet calling two journalists "prostitutes" in relation to their reporting in 2016. The 3-month prison sentence suspended for 1 year of probation is a strong sign that such abuse should not be tolerated.

Bulgarian Journalist Viktoria Marinova Killed

Update: 24 Oct 2018 State replied
Year 07 Oct 2018 Country Bulgaria Category Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , PEN Alert level Level 1
07 Oct 2018 Bulgaria Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , PEN Level 1

Bulgarian journalist and TV presenter Viktoria Marinova was found dead on 6 October 2018 in a park in the northern city of Ruse, where she had reportedly been out jogging. A regional prosecutor said she had suffered blows to the head and had died from suffocation. Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told journalists that the thirty year old journalist had also been raped. Her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothes were also missing. The minister stated that no evidence had been found to suggest the killing was related to her work, and that officials were unaware of any information that she had been threatened. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media urged the Bulgarian authorities to investigate thoroughly to determine whether or not the attack was linked to her work. Bulgarian media voiced concern that Marinova may have been targeted on account of her recent TV appearances. They pointed out that on 30 September she had presented an investigative programme called ‘Detector’ on the private regional TV channel TVN, which featured interviews by another colleague with two well-known Bulgarian and Romanian journalists about their investigation into the alleged misappropriation of EU funds by politicians and businessmen. The owner of investigative journalism website Bivol.bg, Asen Yordanov, was cited by media as saying that the journalists who appeared on the TV programme were in danger because of their investigation into the issue, which has for some time been the focus of fierce controversy. Mr Yordanov suggested that Ms Marinova’s murder had been meant as a warning to other journalists. In October 2017, hundreds of Bulgarian journalists staged a public protest in Sofia after Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov and another senior politician threatened a TV journalist with dismissal for asking probing questions about sensitive political matters on air.

Updates

11 Oct 2018 : On 10 October 2018, police in Germany have detained a man in connection with the rape and killing of Viktoria Marinova.

State replies

Follow-ups

12 Oct 2018 : OSCE media freedom representative welcomes progress in investigation of killing of Bulgarian journalist, urges full and thorough investigation.
09 Oct 2018 : Co-rapporteurs of the PACE for post-monitoring dialogue with Bulgaria appalled by the murder of the journalist Viktoria Marinova urge the Bulgarian authorities to thoroughly investigate her murder and abuse immediately.
08 Oct 2018 : CoE Secretary General calls on the Bulgarian authorities to rapidly conduct a thorough investigation of the horrific killing of investigative reporter Viktoria Marinova.
08 Oct 2018 : CoE Human Rights Commissioner calls on the authorities to urgently and fully investigate this horrendous crime and ensure that those responsible, including the masterminds, are held accountable.
08 Oct 2018 : OSCE Representative shocked by murder of Bulgarian journalist, calls for justice and thorough investigation.

Threats against Slovenian journalists

Update: 09 Oct 2018 State replied
Year 11 Jun 2018 Country Slovenia Category Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
11 Jun 2018 Slovenia Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 2

Following media reports claiming that Hungarian media companies have provided financial support to Slovenian media outlets related with the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), journalists Blaž Petkovič, from daily newspaper Večer, and Eugenija Carl, from the public broadcaster RTV Slovenia, have been targeted by intimidating emails sent by Škandal24, a media outlet co-founded by the SDS party. Both journalists have been asked questions aiming to discredit their work. Other Slovenian journalists have been harassed by Škandal24 and nova24tv.si. The Slovene Association of Journalists strongly condemned these threats.

State replies

Bulgarian TV Presenter Assaulted and Injured in Central Sofia

Resolved
Year 28 Jul 2017 Country Bulgaria Category Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner AEJ , Index Alert level Level 1
28 Jul 2017 Bulgaria Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown AEJ , Index Level 1

On 25 July 2017, Ivo Nikodimov, a presenter for Bulgarian National Television, was attacked in broad daylight by three unknown assailants in Borisova Gradina park in central Sofia. The three men, thought to be in their 20s, beat him, breaking his nose and causing other facial injuries before escaping from the scene. The journalist underwent surgery for his broken nose in a nearby hospital. Later he reported that the attackers did not reply when he demanded to know why they were attacking him. None of his belongings were taken. Mr Nikodimov is a nationally-known public figure and an experienced reporter on criminal and legal affairs, who has received threats in the past because of his work. So far investigators have not found evidence linking this attack to the journalist’s work, but a senior Interior Ministry official characterised the assault as a hate crime. Bulgaria’s media regulator, the Council of Electronic Media, expressed alarm at the attack on a prominent journalist, saying that acts of violence against well-known figures are aimed at instilling fear. Bulgarian National TV stated that aggression against journalists is tantamount to an attack on free expression and called for the culprits to be found and punished. One day before the attack on Ivo Nikodimov two notaries suffered a similar assault in the same area. The authorities say investigations are ongoing into the incidents.

Resolved On 9 July 2018, considering that the investigation carried out by the authorities confirmed that the attack against Ivo Nikodimov was not linked to his professional activities, and taking also into account the commitment of the authorities to continue the process of identification of the perpetrators, as expressed in the Bulgarian authorities’ reply to this alert, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ‘resolved’, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

Bulgarian Investigative Journalist's Car Set on Fire following Warnings about TV Reports

State replied
Year 16 Oct 2017 Country Bulgaria Category Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
16 Oct 2017 Bulgaria Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 4 October 2017, a car belonging to Zornitsa Akmanova, a reporter for the TV programme ‘Lords of the Air’, was set on fire in the central Bulgarian town Karlovo. The ‘Lords of the Air’ programme sets out to expose and confront cases of fraud and other dishonest business practices. On the following day, the owner of a local car garage, Plamen Dimitrov, was arrested in connection with the attack on Ms Akmanova’s car. Just a few hours before the arson, the local authorities had closed down Mr Dimitrov’s garage business. Police intervention was prompted by high-profile TV reports by Ms Akmanova alleging Mr Dimitrov’s involvement in a number of acts of fraud against clients. Ms Akmanova has stated that she had previously received several threats warning her to stop reporting on Mr Dimitrov’s activities. On 9 October, Mr Dimitrov was released on bail after being charged on a single count of fraud against a client. No charges have been brought in connection with the burning of Ms Akmanova’s car or the threats she has received. Bulgarian media report that following a number of previous claims made by local people against Mr Dimitrov, three local prosecutors have dropped the investigations on account of his reported relationship with a senior official in the Karlovo municipality. Subsequently those cases were re-directed to the regional prosecutors in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city, but prosecutors there have also declined to carry out investigations against the garage owner. The destruction of Zornitsa Akmanova’s car follows threats and acts of violence against other journalists working for ‘Lords of the Air’. In the recent past another reporter for the progamme, Eva Veselinova, was physically assaulted while filming an investigation into alleged fraudulent practices at a construction company. A third reporter, Dimitar Varbanov, received threats related to his investigations of the activities of a local businessman.

State replies

Journalist Stoyan Tonchev Brutally Attacked

State replied
Year 26 Jan 2016 Country Bulgaria Category Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , CPJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
26 Jan 2016 Bulgaria Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , CPJ , Index , RSF Level 1

Stoyan Tonchev, a reporter for the news portal 'Hello Bulgaria', was assaulted and beaten with baseball bats on 14 January 2016 in his hometown Pomorie. The journalist, who was a candidate during the last local elections in Bulgaria, was left with serious head and skull injuries and is still under medical care. The assailants allegedly asked Tonchev if he was going to continue to write articles after this attack. The following day, the Bulgarian minister of Interior Affairs issued a statement announcing that two people had been detained in relation with this assault. The investigation is still in progress. Welcoming the swift reaction by the authorities Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, said: “I urge the authorities to thoroughly investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice. There must be no impunity for attacks against journalists."

State replies

Follow-ups

26 Jan 2016 : OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media condemns violent attack on journalist in Bulgaria, urges investigation

Slovenian Media under Police Pressure to Reveal Journalistic Sources

Update: 28 Mar 2018 State replied
Year 24 Jan 2018 Country Slovenia Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
24 Jan 2018 Slovenia Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

In August 2017, online news platform Pod črto published a series of articles about the police investigations into the dealings of Ljubljana’s mayor, Zoran Janković. The articles were based on documentation obtained through a freedom of information request made to Slovenia’s Specialised State Prosecutor's Office. After the publication of the articles, Janković filed a criminal complaint against two employees at the prosecutor’s office. Based on the complaint, on 18 December the Slovenian police asked Pod črto to provide the documents from the prosecutor’s office and the email correspondence between the newspaper and the prosecutor’s office. Pod črto declined, wishing to protect their sources. Due to this, Pod črto’s editor-in-chief received police summons on 10 January 2018 to testify as a witness in the case. Pod črto states that they will meet with police on 26 January 2018, but they remain committed to protecting their sources.

State replies

28 Mar 2018 : Reply of the Republic of Slovenia (information provided by the Ministry of Interior)

Threats from Politicians towards Bulgarian TV Journalist Viktor Nikolaev

No state reply yet
Year 11 Oct 2017 Country Bulgaria Category Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , EBU , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
11 Oct 2017 Bulgaria Harassment and intimidation of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , EBU , Index , RSF Level 2
No state reply yet

Viktor Nikolaev, journalist at NOVA TV, was threatened by an MP for ruling party GERB, Anton Todorov, and Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Simeonov during live broadcast of his TV morning show, on 6 October 2017. Todorov and Simeonov threatened the journalist that he would lose his job if he continued to ask inconvenient questions about the purchase of fighter aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force. The threat immediately raised a wave of concern among journalists in Bulgaria. Both politicians consider this incident as misrepresentation of their words. However, the same day MP Todorov apologised in a Facebook post. He resigned from Parliament on 9 October. On the contrary, Simeonov considered the accusations as slander and asked Bulgarian National Radio, Bulgarian National TV and NOVA TV for an apology otherwise the case will be taken to court. According to him, the media organized a scandalous campaign against him. The Union of Bulgarian Journalists (UBJ) called on Simeonov to resign.

Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission Tries to Silence Newspapers Working on Banking Disclosures

Update: 31 Aug 2017 Resolved
Year 02 Apr 2015 Country Bulgaria Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner RSF , AEJ Alert level Level 2
02 Apr 2015 Bulgaria Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State RSF , AEJ Level 2

The Financial Supervision Commission is an administrative body established to maintain "stability and transparency on the non-banking financial sector". The Commission has distinguished itself by ordering medias to pay record fines to media outlets and news websites in 2014, such as Economedia (weekly Capital) for 80000 euros, Alpiko publishing (zovnews.bg) and Konkurent news (Konkurent newspaper). investigative news website Bivol.bg, Wikileaks' partner in the Balkans, was also fined and asked to reveal sources. The Bulgarian banking sector has been put through important "turbulences" during summer 2014. In response to a wave of panic, the Financial Supervision Commission has launched a war against the media. Prevailing itself of protecting the stability of the banking sector, the administrative authority has contributed to silence the debate on mismanagement of the banks by sanctioning with heavy fines those who were publishing "unofficial news" about financial difficulties in the sector.

Resolved On 31 August 2017, after consideration of the authorities’ response and follow-up to this alert, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

22 Jun 2015 : Report by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to Bulgaria, from 9 to 11 February 2015. CommDH(2015)12. 22 June 2015

Slovenian Investigative Journalist Anuška Delić Charged over “Intelligence Material”

Update: 09 May 2016 Resolved
Year 02 Apr 2015 Country Slovenia Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
02 Apr 2015 Slovenia Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

Anuška Delić, an investigative reporter for Delo, a leading Slovenian daily, has been charged with publishing classified state intelligenc and faces up to three years in prison. In 2011, Anuška Delić wrote a series of articles, just before the Slovenian parliamentary elections, in which exposed alleged connections between the Slovenian neo-Nazi group Blood & Honour and members of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS). The Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency (SOVA) claimed that information Delić used had been illegally obtained from its files. Anuška Delić is accused of violating Article 260 of the Slovenian Criminal Code on the dissemination of classified information and was formally charged in April 2013. The EFJ and its affiliate, the Slovenian Association of Journalists, have urged prosecutors to drop the charges against Anuška Delić. Both organisations believe that journalists should be protected from criminal liability for publishing information of public interest, regardless of whether or not it has been leaked to them.

Resolved On 20 October 2015, the Act amending Article 260 of the Slovenian Criminal Code entered into force. According to the amended Article, an individual disclosing classified information no longer incurs criminal liability provided that the public interest in disclosure outweighs that maintaining its confidentiality.On 15 December 2015, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

19 Oct 2015 : Slovenia adopted a new article 260 of the Penal Code (Disclosure of classified information). This provision entered into force following publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, on 20 July 2015.
13 Apr 2015 : Slovenia drops charges against investigative journalist Anuška Delić

State replies

15 Dec 2015 : On 20 October 2015, the Act amending article 260 of the Slovenian Criminal Code entered into force. According the amended article, an individual disclosing classified information does no longer incur criminal liability provided that public interest in disclosing classified information outweighs that in maintaining its secrecy.
21 May 2015 : Government approves the draft amendments to the Criminal Code
13 Apr 2015 : Response by Slovenian Minister of Justice to Council of Europe Secretary General

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

Several Vehicles Belonging to POP TV Vandalised in Ljubljana

Update: 04 Apr 2016 State replied
Year 09 Feb 2016 Country Slovenia Category Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
09 Feb 2016 Slovenia Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

According to reports by the Slovenian Association of Journalists (DNS) four vehicles belonging to POP TV channel were damaged and one was torched in the night between 31 January and 1 February 2016 in Ljubljana. The damaged cars were parked by the POP TV headquarters, where the security guard discovered them before police forces arrived. The Ljubljana Police Administration also confirmed that an investigation was underway and perpetrators are being sought after.

State replies

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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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