The government in Turkey, where some 170 journalists are in detention, finds itself incapable of defending this situation in relation to applications made to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In response to the ECHR’s request for defences relating to ten journalists, principally the Cumhuriyet staffers, the Ministry of Justice has constantly requested time extensions. Despite the passing of the deadline given by the ECHR for the defence, the government had not as of yesterday submitted the defence expected by the ECHR. Certain of its applications for extended defence deadlines were also denied by the ECHR.
The ECHR, deciding to fast track the applications made by detained journalists in Turkey, requested a defence from the government in the “rights violation” cases of our newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, our Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay and our reporter Ahmet Şık along with other detained journalists Nazlı Ilıcak, Mehmet Altan, Ahmet Altan, Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç and Deniz Yücel plus the non-detainees Murat Aksoy and Atilla Taş. The government must submit a defence in the cases brought on allegations of violation of the journalists’ right to liberty and security and freedom of expression. However, despite the passing of every deadline the ECHR grants, the government has engaged in the tactic of requesting time extensions.
Denial in the Cumhuriyet case
The government, failing to submit a defence by the deadline given by the ECHR for the Cumhuriyet case, requested a second extension until 7 November. This deadline passed the day before yesterday. The government, despite the ECHR’s warning, requested a third extension. However, the ECHR gave a negative reply. It had not become clear yesterday evening whether the ministry had sent a defence to the ECHR. In connection with Ahmet Şık’s application, however, the ECHR granted an extension until 15 November. As to the cases of journalist Murat Aksoy and singer Atilla Taş, who were released on 26 October, the government was granted a second extension. With this deadline passing on 8 November, the ministry apparently requested a third extension. But, it is said that the ECHR denied this requested extension. The deadline of 8 November granted to the government in Şahin Alpay and Ali Bulaç’s application has passed. The ECHR has denied the request for an extension.
Extension over Deniz Yücel
A similar situation has been experienced in the case of journalist Deniz Yücel, who has been in detention since 27 February. The ECHR stated with reference to Yücel’s situation that it had given Turkey a time extension for the submission of an opinion until 28 November.
Government incapable of making defence at ECHR