European Court gives priority to journalist Sayılğan application

17 December 2018
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A Kurdish journalist application given priority for the first time by the European Court

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has said it will conduct a priority review of an application filed by journalist İdris Sayılğan, defended by the lawyer team of the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).

The Court said it will examine the application, filed by MLSA lawyers Veysel Ok and Barış Oflas and London-based Media and Legal Defense Initiative (MLDI) lawyer Padraig Hughes as soon as possible. The Court also requested to be informed of further developments in Sayılğan’s case.

Human Rights Commissioner may apply to intervene

MLSA Co-Director Ok, said: “İdris has been imprisoned for over two years. He has not even once faced a judge during this period. His right to defend himself has been divested from him completely, and he has been able to benefit from neither Turkey-based nor Western civil society organizations’ solidarity campaigns. We have undertaken his case and made tremendous efforts to increase international solidarity for him. We have also provided detailed information regarding İdris’s case in our meeting with the Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic, who was very interested in the case. We expect her to involved in our application.”

Ok noted that they were hopeful about the application and remarked they were expecting the priority decision. He added, “Court’s response to the application is very significant, since it is the first time they grant priority to a Kurdish journalist’s application after the July 15 coup attempt. Now we have seen a journalist who has no strong connections or an outstanding popularity can also claim his rights and demand justice. Since a part of the journalists imprisoned in Turkey are members of the Kurdish media, this is an encouraging and hopeful development. We hope the Court will rule for a violation, as it did with Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan’s cases.”

Accusations against Sayılğan

The now-shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency reporter Sayılğan was arrested on 24 October 2016 and sent to Trabzon Prison, on “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda” charges. The journalist’s indictment consists of his news reports and tapes of his phone calls with his news sources.

The ECtHR had found violations in journalists Alpay and Altan’s cases on 20 March 2018. These were the only two applications where the Court made a decision, after the July 15 coup attempt.

Sayılğan’s next hearing will be held on 24 December.