Logo law and pluralism
Logo Università Bicocca

Sabuncu and Others v. Turkey, No. 23199/17, ECtHR (Second Section), 10 November 2020


Derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights in time of emergency. Detention based on a mere suspicion. Arbitrary interference with freedom of expression and political debate. 

Normative references

Art. 5 ECHR 
Art. 10 ECHR 
Art. 15 ECHR 
Art. 18 ECHR


1. The lack of a “reasonable” suspicion justifying the deprivation of liberty denies the minimum requirements of Art. 5, para. 1 (c) ECHR. A detention order based on a “mere” suspicion that someone has committed a criminal offence breaches Art. 5, para. 1 (c) ECHR. In the instant case, no derogating measure was applicable to the situation.

2. The pre-trial detention of journalists who have expressed critical views of certain government policies constitutes an interference with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Art. 10 ECHR. The absence of reasonable suspicion that they had committed an offence makes the measure disproportionate within the meaning of Article 10, para. 2 ECHR. 
(Case concerning the detention of Turkish journalists suspected of having committed the offences of disseminating propaganda on behalf of terrorist organisations or assisting those organisations on account of the editorial stance of the newspaper Cumhuriyet criticising certain government policies).


The applicants complained of a violation of Art. 18 ECHR, alleging that their detention had been designed to punish the newspaper Cumhuriyet for the criticisms of the Turkish government and for having revealed facts which the government had sought to conceal. The Court does not find sufficient evidence to conclude that the detention imposed on the applicants served a purpose contrary to the Convention.