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.

Top court rules Eren Erdem’s detention violated his right to liberty

Top court rules Eren Erdem’s detention violated his right to liberty

Ruling that Erdem was unlawfully detained as part of the Karşı newspaper trial, the Constitutional Court orders payment of TL 30,000 in compensation

 

The Constitutional Court’s First Section ruled that the detention of former main opposition CHP lawmaker and former editor-in-chief of the shuttered Karşı newspaper Eren Erdem violated his right to liberty and security, enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution.

In their judgment dated 9 June 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously that Erdem was unlawfully detained as part of the Karşı newspaper trial, and ordered that Erdem be paid TL 30,000 in compensation.

The top court found other claims in Erdem’s application to be inadmissible. In addition to a violation of his right to liberty and security, Erdem’s application also claimed violations of “the right to a fair trial,” “prohibition of ill-treatment,” “right to equality and non-discrimination,” “right to respect for private life and right to an effective remedy” and “freedom of expression” due to his “request for a typewriter to be denied” and a “disciplinary penalty.”

The court held that since there was no concrete evidence in the decisions concerning Erdem’s detention demonstrating that Erdem presented a flight risk, his detention was a disproportionate measure.

The full text of the Constitutional Court’s judgment, published on 19 June 2020 in the Official Gazette (in Turkish), can be accessed here.

The case against Eren Erdem, who was among suspects in a 2014 investigation into the corruption probes of December 17-25, was separated in 2015, when he was elected as deputy for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the investigation against him was suspended.

The Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor had claimed that the Karşı newspaper had revealed leaked tapes as part of the graft probes targeting the government in 2013, publicly known as “17-25 December.”

The investigation against Erdem was relaunched in June 2016 after his parliamentary immunity was lifted. In an indictment issued in May 2018, Erdem was accused of “knowingly and willingly aiding FETÖ/PDY,” “violating the confidentiality of an investigation” and “disclosing the identity of a secret witness.”

Taking up the indictment, the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul had issued an arrest warrant against Erdem on 28 June 2018, as requested by the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor. Erdem, who was taken into custody the same day, was jailed pending trial by a court order. Erdem’s case file was later merged with the Karşı newspaper indictment, issued in June 2018 against 10 suspects and accepted by the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

During the course of the proceedings, at the end of a hearing on 7 January 2019, the trial court ruled for Erdem’s release under judicial control measures, however he was rearrested upon the prosecutor’s objection.

At the final hearing of the “Karşı newspaper trial” on 1 March 2019, the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul sentenced Erdem to 4 years and 2 months in prison on the charge of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and ruled for the continuation of Erdem’s imprisonment.

Erdem was freed on 31 October 2019 by a ruling of the 3rd Criminal Chamber of Istanbul Regional Court of Justice, an appellate court. The case file is currently pending before the Supreme Court of Appeals.

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