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Turkey: Court sets human rights deadline on journalists’ detention complaint

A deadline of 2 October has been set for the Turkish authorities to respond to a human rights complaint concerning the detention of 10 journalists from the Cumhuriyet daily newspaper.

The 10 employees (columnists, journalists and editors) were placed in police custody and subsequently in pre-trial detention in October and November 2016 on suspicion of having committed offences on behalf of terrorist organisations and disseminating propaganda for them.

The applicants challenged the relevant detention orders before judges of the peace and applied, unsuccessfully, for release.

They also lodged individual petitions before the Constitutional Court; those proceedings are currently pending.

Following a preliminary examination of the admissibility on 8 June 2017, the Vice-President of the Section to which the case had been assigned decided to give notice of the application Sabuncu and
Others v. Turkey (no. 23199/17) to the Turkish Government and to invite them to submit written observations on its admissibility and merits by 2 October 2017.

Relying in particular on Article 5 §§ 1, 3 and 4 (right to liberty and security / right to speedy review of the lawfulness of detention), Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights), the ten journalists complain about their pre-trial detention and its duration, and also submit that there has been a breach of their freedom of expression. They further allege that their detention is a sanction against them for criticising the government and amounts to politically-motivated judicial harassment.

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