The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has fast-tracked the application made by Cumhuriyet newspaper’s detained columnists and managers. The possibility has thus arisen of the application seeking an order of release that the Constitutional Court has not taken onto its schedule for three and a half months being settled by the ECHR before the Constitutional Court. Included in the notification from the ECHR Registry to one of the lawyers who made the application on behalf of Cumhuriyet newspaper, Fikret İlkiz, following the imparting of information on the rules for the procedure whereby the application will be examined, is the decision passed over the application for ‘fast-tracking’. Accordingly, the ECHR, stating that, despite not being included among the criteria in Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, the case in terms of subject-matter numbers among the cases that that the ECHR will examine with priority, gives notification that it ‘will be examined as soon as possible.’ The European Court of Human Rights passed the same decision in applications made on behalf of the detained journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Atilla Taş and Murat Aksoy.
Cumhuriyet’s lawyers applied to the ECHR following failure for the individual application they made to the Constitutional Court at the end of December to be examined. The application was made at the start of March before the indictment over our columnists and managers had been drafted. The indictment the Istanbul Chief Prosecution drafted last week has fully vindicated Cumhuriyet’s lawyers’ arguments in their application. In Cumhuriyet’s ECHR application, the passing of an order of release is sought for the columnists and managers who have been detained with reports and articles in the newspaper cited as grounds. In the application, stating that the application made on 26 November 2016 to the Constitutional Court has not been examined, examination of the application by the ECHR with priority and the rendering of a decision that there has been a violation of Article 5 with the heading ‘Right to liberty and security’ and Article 10 with the heading ‘Freedom of expression’ of the European Convention on Human Rights is sought. In the application, in which there is stated to have been a ‘grave violation’ of personal rights through the remand order, the immediate passing of an order for the applicants’ release is sought from the ECHR. It is said in the application, ‘The applicants have been held in detention for more than three months with the grounds cited of the newspaper changing its editorial policy and reports and articles that were not to the government’s liking. The detentions have produced a deterrent effect on the willingness of members of the public, journalists and academics to express their opinion. The detention amounts to judicial misconduct and has a political aim. The public authorities have not acted in good faith. The investigation is not legal, but political. Ruling circles wish to silence the newspaper and halt its publication.’
Cumhuriyet case fast-tracked