Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

ECtHR: Atilla Taş’s detention violated his right to liberty, freedom of expression

ECtHR: Atilla Taş’s detention violated his right to liberty, freedom of expression

The singer and columnist’s pre-trial detention on account of his tweets and articles was unlawful and arbitrary, the European Court of Human Rights rules

 

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on 19 January 2021 that the pretrial detention of singer and former columnist Atilla Taş as part of the case publicly known as the “FETÖ media trial” violated his right to liberty and security and his freedom of expression.

 

The Strasbourg court ordered that Turkey pay Taş 12,275 euros in non-pecuniary damages.

 

Taş’s application was lodged with the ECtHR on 21 December 2016.

 

In its Chamber judgment, the European Court held unanimously that Taş’s detention violated articles 5/1 (right to liberty and security) and 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court held by a majority of four votes to three that there had also been a violation of Article 5/4 (inability to consult the investigation file).

 

“None of the decisions concerning his initial and continued pre-trial detention contained evidence capable of establishing a plausible link between his actions -- namely, his articles and tweets of a political nature -- and the terrorism-related offences of which he was accused. The interpretation and application of the legal provisions relied on by the domestic authorities had thus been unreasonable to the point of rendering Taş’s detention unlawful and arbitrary,” a press release about the judgment read.

 

The Court noted in its decision that Taş’s re-arrest on 31 March 2017 on “coup” charges immediately after being released by the trial court was “tantamount to permitting a circumvention of the law that would enable the judicial authorities to continue to detain persons simply by instituting a fresh criminal investigation concerning the same facts.”

 

The Court dismissed Taş’s complaint concerning the length of the proceedings before the Constitutional Court.

 

Taş, who wrote columns for the shuttered Meydan newspaper from 2015 until its closure in 2016, was jailed pending trial in September 2016 on the charge of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.” He was accused of lending support to a television station which allegedly had links to “FETÖ/PDY” and of criticising investigations against alleged FETÖ members to discredit the investigations.

 

Taş’s Twitter posts and his articles in which he criticized the government’s policies were held as evidence for the charges he faced in the “FETÖ media trial,” where he remained in the Silivri Prison for around 14 months before being released by the trial court in October 2017.

 

At the end of the trial, Taş was sentenced to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in prison for “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.” Taş returned to prison in November 2018 after a regional court of appeals upheld his conviction, and was released in February 2019 under probation.

 

Taş’s conviction was overturned in 2020 by the Supreme Court of Appeals and his retrial is currently ongoing.

 

See case info for further information on the case against Atilla Taş.

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