On November 10, 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) published its ruling on ten former journalists and executives of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper in response to their application on extended pretrial detention over daily’s critical coverage and articles.
The Court found, unanimously, there has been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention (Lawful arrest or detention) and of Article 10 (right to freedom of expression). However, it found no violation of Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights), which bars states from restricting rights for illegitimate reasons. The applicants said their detention had been designed to punish them for their criticisms of the government.
“Today’s ECtHR decision makes it clear that these journalists and executives were deprived of their rights to liberty and freedom of expression”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “It is another sign that Turkey’s justice system has failed to guarantee fundamental rights amid the country’s ongoing crackdown on independent journalism.”
The Court’s ruling on Article 18 was six to one. Judge Kūris dissented, writing, “The applicants’ placement in police custody and their pretrial detention with criminal charges brought against them were of political nature, only clumsily camouflaged in legal robes and their conviction (even if quashed) was likewise tainted with political interference.”
Court also ordered Turkey to pay 16,000 EUR to each applicant in compensation for damaged caused by their lengthy pretrial detention.