European rights court says Turkey violated reporter’s rights with ban

Photo: Facebook - Banu Güven

Turkey violated the rights of a prominent journalist by denying her access to information into corruption allegations against four ministers in the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) said Tuesday, according to Agence France-Presse.

Turkish journalist Banu Güven brought the complaint to the ECtHR, based in the French city of Strasbourg, after Turkish courts imposed a blackout on information about a parliamentary inquiry into the graft allegations.

The allegations of top-level graft, which emerged in December 2013, were seen as a major embarrassment for then-prime minister Erdoğan.

Turkish authorities dismissed the claims as a plot by US-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara accused three years later of fomenting a failed coup.

The ECtHR found that the court injunction banning the dissemination of information over the inquiry had violated Güven’s rights to freedom of expression.

The injunction “had had major repercussions on the applicant’s exercise of her right to freedom of expression on a topical issue,” it found.

It “prevented Ms Güven from enjoying a sufficient level of protection as required by the rule of law in a democratic society,” it added.

It ordered Turkey to pay Güven 1,500 euros ($1,800) in respect of costs and expenses.

“Press freedom has won!” wrote Güven on her Twitter account as she welcomed the verdict.

The reporter was a longstanding presenter on Turkish news channel NTV until 2011. She then joined IMC TV until the pro-opposition outlet was shut down in 2016.

The ECtHR has in recent months issued a string of rulings against Turkey as concerns grow that Ankara is increasingly defying Europe’s top rights court.

It has urged Turkey to released jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş and opposition philanthropist Osman Kavala, but they both remain behind bars.

There has also been increasing concern over press freedom in Turkey under Erdoğan, with numerous publications shut down and dozens of reporters jailed for what activists say was just doing their job.

Press freedom activists have long criticized the use by the authorities of broadcast bans about sensitive events, including terror attacks.

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