Sürek v. Turkey (No. 1)

App. No. 26682/95, 1999-IV Eur. Ct. H.R. (1999)

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Sürek v. Turkey (No. 1)

European Court of Human Rights
App. No. 26682/95, 1999-IV Eur. Ct. H.R. (1999)

Facts

Kamil Tekin Sürek (plaintiff) was the main shareholder of a company that published a review each week in Istanbul, Turkey (defendant). Sürek was not a prominent figure. One week, Sürek’s company published two letters that Turkish authorities did not like. The letters related to the struggle for the independence of the Kurdish people living in the southeastern part of Turkey and referred to the area as Kurdistan. The letters expressed anger regarding the massacres of the Kurdish people at the hands of Turkish authorities. Although Sürek was just a part owner of the company and not an editor, he was charged with violating the terrorism act through the dissemination of propaganda against Turkey’s indivisibility and with provoking hatred in violation of the criminal code. Sürek was acquitted of provoking hatred but convicted of disseminating propaganda and assessed a modest fine. A court held that the language of the letters, in referencing Kurdistan, was designed to destroy Turkey’s territorial integrity. Sürek alleged that his right to freedom of expression under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the convention) had been violated and that he should not be held criminally liable as a shareholder. Article 10(1) of the convention provided for freedom of expression, and Article 10(2) permitted interference with freedom of expression if the interference was legally prescribed and necessary in a democratic society pursuant to certain legitimate aims, such as national security or preserving territorial integrity.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

Dissent (Bonello, J.)

Dissent (Palm, J.)

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