ECHR judge cites Bob Dylan's song in dissenting opinion in favor of novelist Ahmet Altan

A judge of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has cited American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's song "Blowin’ in the Wind” in his dissenting opinion in favor of prominent novelist Ahmet Altan.

This collage photo shows Bob Dylan and Ahmet Altan.

Günsu Durak / DUVAR

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on April 13 ruled that Turkey violated prominent novelist Ahmet Altan's several rights, including his right to liberty and security.

The court, however, by six votes to one, found no violation of rights with respect to Article 18 of the European Convention of Human Rights (limitation on the use of restrictions of rights).

“The Court found no violation of Article 18 in conjunction with Article 5, as it had not been established beyond doubt that the applicant’s pre-trial detention had been ordered for a purpose not prescribed by the Convention,” the ECHR said in its ruling.

Article 18 states that “the restrictions permitted under this Convention to the said rights and freedoms shall not be applied for any purpose other than those for which they have been prescribed.”

In his dissenting opinion to the judgment on violation of Article 18, Lithuanian judge Egidius Kūris made a reference to famous American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's song "Blowin’ in the Wind. "

“There is here a quotation from Dylan's most famous song...Just like everyone knows which model and tendency are being consolidated in some countries in the last couple of years with regards to the treatment towards civil society and independent media, maybe everyone knows this song,” Kūris wrote in his dissenting opinion, and shared the following lyrics from the song: “How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see?”

“Is the address of Dylan's question an ambiguous 'man'? I think not. This question is also valid for the institutions. And domestic and international courts are included in these institutions,” Kūris further wrote in his opinion.

The ECHR ruled on April 13 that Turkey violated Altan's right to liberty and security, freedom of expression, and right to have the lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court.

The court also ordered Turkey to pay Altan 16,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages. 

Altan, 71, has been in prison since September 2016, when he was detained over allegations that he disseminated subliminal messages related to the coup attempt during a TV program, as well as articles he had written criticizing the government.