Turkey: Court backs media professionals in free expression human rights complaint

Human rights judges have backed the complaint of two media professionals who claimed that Turkey had breached their human rights

The European Court of Human Rights ruled today that in the case of Belek and Velioğlu v. Turkey (application no. 44227/04) a criminal conviction for a press article that did not call for violence or amount to hate speech, did violate Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European convention.

The complaint was brought by Ahmet Sami Belek and Savaş Velioğlu, both Turkish nationals, who were born in 1953 and 1981. They are the proprietor and editor respectively of the daily newspaper Günlük Evrensel, which has its registered office in Istanbul.

The case concerned the applicants’ conviction by a State Security Court for publishing an article in a daily newspaper containing a statement by an illegal armed organisation.

The court found in particular that the text, taken as a whole, had not contained any call for violence, armed resistance or insurrection and did not amount to hate speech, which was the main factor to be taken into consideration.

Article 41 (just satisfaction)

The court held that Turkey was to pay EUR 575 to Belek and EUR 285 to Velioğlu in respect of pecuniary damage, and EUR 1,250 to each of them in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

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