ECHR rules in Turgay & Others v. Turkey that suspension of two newspapers is unnecessary for terrorism prevention reasons

The European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that the suspension of two weekly newspapers published in Turkey violated Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention). The Court concluded that discontinuing the publication of future, unknown news content, even if for just one month, unjustifiably restricted the press’ freedom of expression in a democratic society.

In January of 2008, a Turkish court suspended for one month the publications pursuant to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, alleging that these newspapers contained propaganda supporting the crimes of a threatening terrorist organization. The applicants, the owners and editor-in-chief of these papers, all Turkish nationals, were criminally prosecuted for distributing such propaganda. They alleged that this suspension constituted an unjustified interference with their freedom of expression and amounted to censorship. The government, disagreeing, argued that the suspension was necessary to protect national security.

Examining prior case law, the Court determined that an Article 10 violation existed in an identical complaint (Urper & Others v. Turkey), and it could not find a reason why it should depart from this previously drawn judgment. As before, the Court concluded that the suspension of the newspapers was unnecessary, and that more lenient measures, such as the confiscation of the particular newspaper issues or the ban of specific articles, could have been alternatively imposed. Having found a violation of Article 10, the Court decided that making separate rulings regarding the applicants’ other alleged violations of Articles 6 (right to a fair trial), 7 (no punishment without law), and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (right to property) to the Convention was unnecessary

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