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Ali Gürbüz v. Turkey, No. 52497/08, ECtHR (Second Section), 12 March 2019


Publishing statements by a terrorist organization. Criminal proceedings brought against media professionals without taking into consideration the right of the public to be informed. Proceedings having a chilling effect on freedom of expression in spite of acquittal. 

Normative references

Art. 10 ECHR


1. Criminal proceedings may in themselves amount to an interference with the freedom of expression, irrespective of the acquittal of the defendant. The mere fear of conviction – which should be assessed in relation to the number and length of the proceedings and the legislation on the basis of which the relevant proceedings are instigated – may have a chilling effect on the exercise of freedom of expression.

2. Criminal proceedings automatically brought against the owners, publishers and editors-in-chief of newspapers following the publication of statements issued by terrorist organisations, regardless of their content and context, may have the effect of censuring media professionals and deterring them from expressing their view on matters of public interest. This cannot be reconciled with the freedom to receive or impart information or ideas.
(Case concerning criminal proceedings brought against the owner of a daily newspaper for publishing statements by the leaders of organisations characterised as terrorist under the Turkish law. Despite his acquittal, he submitted that the proceedings in question had brought pressure to bear on him, inducing him to self-censor. The Court found the violation of Art. 10 ECHR as the impugned measure was not necessary in a democratic society).