European rights court fines Turkey over book on disappeared journalist
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that a Turkish lawsuit against the owner of a publishing company for denigrating the Republic of Turkey violated freedom of expression and fined the government 2,500 euros.
The book entitled “Kayıpsın Diyorlar” (They Say You’re Missing), written by Ali Aydın, was about the disappearance of a 19-year-old newspaper reporter in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast in 1994.
The book was published by Aram Publication in 2004 and a lawsuit was brought against Fatih Taş, then-owner of the company, on charges of insulting the Republic of Turkey. Taş was first sentenced to six months in prison, which was later turned into a 1,650 lira fine by the Court of Appeals.
Taş, at that time, was also tried in more than a dozen cases for other books he published and charged with spreading terrorist propaganda and humiliating state organisations.
“As to the necessity of the interference, the court noted that the book in question had concerned the circumstances in which a journalist had disappeared, which was unquestionably a matter of public interest,” the ECHR said in its verdict.
The ECHR also said passages of the book referred to by Turkish courts in convicting Taş had in no way been gratuitously offensive or insulting, and had not incited violence or hatred.