Turkey violated student's free speech over Erdoğan criticism, ECHR rules

The ECHR on June 15 ruled that the Turkish judiciary's 2012 conviction of a student for “insulting” the then Prime Minister Erdoğan violated his rights. In a separate ruling, the court also ruled that Turkey had violated a civil servant's right by dismissing her for “liking” political statements shared by others on Facebook.

Didem Mercan / DUVAR

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in separate rulings on June 15 that Turkey had violated two citizens' right to freedom of expression and ordered the country to pay 2,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages to each of the applicants.

One of the cases concerns the application of Ömür Çağdaş Ersoy, who was in 2012 convicted for referring to the then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a “dictator” during a demonstration.

Ersoy, who was at the time a student of Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), later filed an application with the ECHR.

In a ruling handed down on June 15, the ECHR said that Turkey had violated Ersoy's right to freedom of expression and ordered the country to pay him 2,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages plus 2,000 euros in costs.

Another ruling that the ECHR gave on Turkey on June 15 concerns the dismissal of civil servant Selma Melike.

Melike's employment contract was terminated by public authorities as a disciplinary sanction on the grounds that she “liked” some political statements released by other users on Facebook. Melike later took her case to the ECHR on June 20, 2019.

Liking something on social media platforms such as Facebook amounts to symbolic speech which is protected by Article 10 of the European Convention, the ECHR ruled.

The court said that “liking” some content on social media does not bear the same weight as sharing a post because “liking only expresses sympathy for the published content and does not carry a desire to actively spread it.”

The court ordered Turkey to pay Melike 2,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages.




Topics Turkey ECHR