ECtHR faults Turkey for violating journalists’ right to freedom of expression

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that Turkey violated the rights of two journalists who were jailed for reporting on the leaked emails of former minister Berat Albayrak, who is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Strasbourg court ruled that Turkey pay 38,250 euros in pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages to Birgün daily journalist Mahir Kanaat and then-editor of the Diken news website Tunca Öğreten.

The court ruled that Turkey violated the journalists’ right to liberty and security and freedom of expression.

Then-Energy Minister Albayrak’s emails were hacked by RedHack, a Marxist hacker group in  September 2016. The group leaked the content after Turkey failed to release leftist dissidents, including  a pro-Kurdish political party official and a novelist, from pre-trial detention. The group leaked documents obtained from Albayrak’s personal email accounts, which he reportedly used for government business.

Kanaat and Öğreten were among a group of journalists who faced legal harassment for reporting on the leaked emails. They were detained in December 2016 and released one year later in December 2017 under judicial supervision and a travel ban. They faced charges of aiding a terrorist organization without holding membership in it.

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