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Turkey: Investigative reporters seek court ‘free-expression’ victory

Two investigative reporters, brought to court on charges of aiding the outlawed Ergenekon organisation, will find out tomorrow (Tuesday 8 July) if judges accept that Turkey breached their human rights.

Nedim Şener v. Turkey (no. 38270/11)
Şık v. Turkey (no. 53413/11)

The applicants are Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, Turkish nationals who were born in 1966 and 1970 respectively and live in Istanbul. They are investigative journalists. The case concerns their arrest, pre-trial detention and criminal prosecution on suspicion of aiding and abetting the criminal organisation Ergenekon.

The applicants were arrested on 3 March 2011 on the instructions of the Istanbul public prosecutor following a search of their homes, and were subsequently placed in pre-trial detention on the grounds that there were strong suspicions against them and that evidence implicating them had been seized in the course of an investigation into the organisation Ergenekon1.

The prosecuting authorities indicted Şener and Şık before the assize court for aiding and abetting that organisation by participating or assisting in the production of two books which accused the government of promoting the infiltration of Islamists into the state apparatus. The books also insinuated that the Ergenekon trial had been diverted from its proper purpose by the same Islamist leaders, who sought to stifle opposition to the government. The criminal proceedings against the applicants are still pending.

Şener relies on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment), complaining that he was arrested without evidence and subjected to lengthy and repeated interrogation which deprived him of sleep.

Both applicants, relying on Article 5 §§ 2, 3 and 4 (right to liberty and security/right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily), complain that the decisions concerning their pretrial detention were not accompanied by specific reasons, and allege that they were unable to contest the lawfulness of their detention as they were not informed of the evidence against them because of the authorities’ refusal to allow them to consult the case file for reasons of confidentiality.

Lastly, they rely on Article 10 (freedom of expression), complaining, in particular, of the proceedings brought against them for contributing to two books criticising the actions of the state bodies.

They further claim that their detention and the investigations carried out prevented them from carrying on their occupation as investigative journalists and obliged them to censor themselves in their professional activity.

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