Encouraged by ECHR ruling that Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener's human rights were violated

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

His Excellency Tuncay Babali
Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Canada
197 Wurtemburg Street
Ottawa, ON K1N8L9

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE applauds the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that states the Turkish government violated the human rights of veteran award-winning journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener by holding them for over a year in pre-trial detention from March 3, 2011 to March 12, 2012. Şık and Şener were arrested as part of the OdaTV case in the Ergenekon trials, where a number of opposition journalists were charged with membership in Ergenekon, an armed terrorist organization, in retaliation for writings that were critical of the government.

During their detention Şık and Şener were prevented from contesting the legitimacy of their imprisonment, as the authorities persistently refused to allow them to access their case files. In two separate judgments, for Şık and Şener respectively, the ECHR found that Turkey violated “Article 5-3 of the European Convention of Human Rights on the ‘length and reasonableness of pre-trial,’ Article 5-4 on ‘procedural guarantees of review,’ and Article 10 on ‘freedom of expression.’” Most significantly, the Court found that the detention of Şık and Şener was “liable to create a climate of self-censorship” for others reporting on the government. The Turkish government has been ordered to pay € 20,000 and € 10,000 in damages to Şener and Şık respectively.

Speaking about the ruling, Nedim Şener said “This decision shows that [my book] was not a bomb and that journalism is not terrorism.”

While CJFE celebrates this ECHR verdict and the precedent it sets for other Turkish journalists falsely accused of terror-related offenses, there is concern that the Turkish government will not comply with the verdict. In May 2014, Turkey refused to pay a fine ordered by the ECHR stemming from its invasion of Cyprus in 1974. CJFE urges the government of Turkey to comply with this latest ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, paying the prescribed penalties and in doing so signalling its commitment to freedom of expression and press freedom.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr. John Holmes, Ambassador of Canada to Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs