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Mehdi Tanrikulu v. Turkey (no. 2), No. 33374/10, ECtHR (Second Section), 19 January 2021


Unjustified pre-trial detention of a newspaper editor for disseminating propaganda in favour of a terrorist organisation. Violation of the rights to liberty and security, and freedom of expression.

Normative references

Art. 5 ECHR
Art. 10 ECHR


1. The deprivation of liberty is such a severe measure that it could be justified only where other, less severe measures have been considered and considered insufficient to ensure the private and public interest calling for it. Hence, it is not sufficient that the deprivation of liberty complies with domestic law, but it should also be deemed necessary in the light of concrete circumstances. Where other less severe measures are sufficient to meet that aim, the pre-trial detention is incompatible with article 5, paragraph 1 (c) of the Convention.

2. There is no doubt that States Parties can adopt effective measures to prevent terrorism and, in particular, deal with public incitement represented by terroristic breaches. Nevertheless, the Court maintains that listing a number of expressions used in a newspaper article to demonstrate propaganda for a terroristic organisation would not reflect the application of the criteria enumerated and used by the Court itself while interpreting article 10. According to the Court’s case law, when opinions do not incite violence, States Parties cannot invoke the protection of territorial integrity, national security, public order or the prevention of crime to justify the restriction of the public’s right to be informed, and thereby availing themselves of criminal law to affect the media.
(The applicant, editor-in-chief a daily newspaper published in Kurdish, was placed in pre-trial detention and convicted for disseminating propaganda in favour of an illegal terrorist organisation on account of articles published in the newspaper. The Court found a violation of articles 5 and 10, since the detention did not comply with and was not prescribed by law, and the justifications for it were irrelevant and insufficient).