Turkey violated reporter’s rights with ban: Europe court

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Turkey violated the rights of a prominent journalist by denying her access to information into corruption allegations against four ministers in the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the European Court of Human Rights said Tuesday.

Turkish journalist Banu Guven brought the complaint to the ECHR, based in the French city of Strasbourg, after Turkish courts imposed a blackout on information about a parliamentary inquiry into the graft allegations.

The allegations of top-level graft, which emerged in December 2013, were seen as a major embarrassment for then prime minister Erdogan.

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Turkish authorities dismissed the claims as a plot by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan who Ankara accused three years later of fomenting a failed coup.

The ECHR found that the court injunction banning the dissemination of information over the inquiry had violated Guven’s rights to freedom of expression.

The injunction “had had major repercussions on the applicant’s exercise of her right to freedom of expression on a topical issue,” it found.

It “prevented Ms Guven from enjoying a sufficient level of protection as required by the rule of law in a democratic society,” it added.

It ordered Turkey to pay Guven 1,500 euros ($1,800) in respect of costs and expenses.

“Press freedom has won!” wrote Guven on her Twitter account as she welcomed the verdict.

The reporter was a longstanding presenter on Turkish news channel NTV until 2011. She then joined IMC TV until the pro-opposition outlet was shut down in 2016.

The ECHR has in recent months issued a string of rulings against Turkey as concerns grow that Ankara is increasingly defying Europe’s top rights court.

It has urged Turkey to release jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas and opposition philanthropist Osman Kavala, but they both remain behind bars.

There has also been increasing concern over press freedom in Turkey under Erdogan, with numerous publications shut down and dozens of reporters jailed for what activists say was just doing their job.

Press freedom activists have long criticized the use by the authorities of broadcast bans about sensitive events, including terror attacks.

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