Case: Zübeyde Füsun Üstel and Others
26 July 2019
Decision: Violation of the freedom of expression safeguarded by Article 26 of the Constitution
– Alleged violation of the applicants’ right due to being convicted of disseminating terrorist propaganda for having signed a declaration issued by a group of academics seeking to end the curfews and clashes during the operations carried out within the scope of the fight against terrorism in the East and Southeast of Turkey between 2015 and 2016.
– The Court is aware of concerns about the expressions and acts that might deteriorate the security situation in the region where the terrorist incidents have taken place. It is also aware of the fact that the impugned declaration was prepared unilaterally and from a certain perspective and that it included exaggerated comments, as well as some offensive and vicious expressions against the security forces. The Court’s consideration that this declaration should fall under the protection of the freedom of expression does not mean that it shares and supports the thoughts and ideas stated in the declaration.
– The expressions that are in no way supported by the Court may also fall within the scope of the freedom of expression. In assessing whether they fall under this scope, it must be considered whether the used expressions legitimize, praise or incite the violent and threatening methods of the terrorist organization.
– Interference imposed on the applicants could not be proven to be proportionate to the aim of maintaining public order inherent in the fight against the terrorist organization in question and terrorism.
– In cases where it is possible to address unjust attacks and criticisms of the opponents through different means -even if they appear to be highly unreasonable and irrelevant-, criminal proceedings must not be resorted to.