RAN 04/15 Update #2 – 22. Mai 2015
Der internationale PEN ist aufgrund der andauernden Gerichtsverhandlung im Falle des Schriftstellers, Journalisten und Dokumentarfilmers Can Dündar zutiefst besorgt. Wegen angeblicher Diffamierung könnte der Chefredakteur der türkischen Tageszeitung „Cumhuriyet“ zu viereinhalb Jahren Gefängnis verurteilt werden. Bei seiner letzten Anhörung am 28. April 2015 brachten Dündars Anwälte Argumente bezüglich der journalistischen Relevanz der Korruptionsuntersuchung im Dezember 2013 hervor. Gerichtsunterlagen dieser Untersuchung wurden von den vorsitzenden Richtern als Beweismittel in Dündars Verfahren zugelassen. Die nächste Anhörung wurde für den 17. September 2015 angesetzt. Der internationale PEN lehnt die Kriminalisierung von Diffamierung in allen Fällen ab und fordert die türkische Regierung erneut dazu auf, alle Anklagepunkte fallenzulassen, die gegen Dündar einzig und allein deshalb erhoben werden, weil er seine Meinung als Journalist und politischer Kommentator frei äußert. (cm/sf)
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Mailen Sie eine Nachricht an feuchert [at] writers-in-prison [dot] de und wir werden diese für Sie an Can Dündar weiterleiten.
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- Rufen Sie die türkischen Behörden dazu auf, Diffamierungen zu entkriminalisieren und die Anklage gegen Can Dündar fallenzulassen;
- Fordern Sie die Regierung auf, sicherzustellen, dass die Richter und Ankläger Diffamierungsfälle, in die Politiker und hochrangige Beamte involviert sind, nach den Richtlinien behandeln, die im Falle „Tuşalp gegen die Türkei“ vom Europäischen Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte festgelegt wurden;
- Erinnern Sie sie daran, dass die Türkei die Verplichtung eingegangen ist, das Recht auf Meinungsfreiheit zu repektieren, als sie die Europäische Konvention für Menschenrechte (ECHR) und den Internationalen Pakt über Bürgerliche und Politische Rechte (ICCPR) unterzeichnet hat.
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S.E. den Botschafter der Türkei
Herrn Hüseyin Avni Karslıoğlu
Hintergrund (bereitgestellt vom internationalen PEN)
Writer, journalist and documentary filmmaker Can Dündar is on trial for criminal defamation in a case brought by the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son Bilal Erdoğan. The case relates to a series of articles that Dündar wrote in July 2014, in which he questioned the handling of a dropped corruption investigation, initiated in December 2013, which implicated a number of high-ranking government officials and their families in alleged acts of bribery, bid-rigging for government contracts, money-laundering and gold smuggling.
Can Dündar has become one of Turkey’s most prominent voices in a career spanning more than three decades. He is well known for his literary work as well as for a series of biographies and documentaries regarding key figures in Turkish history, including the founder of the republic Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the poet Nazım Hikmet and industrialist Vehbi Koç. His 2008 documentary on Atatürk sparked nationwide debate for its novel depiction of Turkey’s first president. Dündar was sacked from his position as a columnist for Milliyet following a series of articles critical of the government during the Gezi Park protests. He has since worked as a columnist for Cumhuriyet and BirGün and was appointed as Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief in February 2015. He was featured as a case study in a 2014 PEN report on the Gezi Park protests.
Dündar is currently on trial for two articles he wrote in July 2014 in his column for the daily Cumhuriyet. The first of these articles, ‘Erdoğan’s soft underbelly‘, was published on 1 July 2014, and discussed the possible ramifications of Erdoğan’s presidency. The second article, ‘It is our right to read the police reports‘, was published on 18 July 2014, and criticised the controversial handling of a major police investigation into alleged government corruption (the investigation has since been dropped after a reshuffle of the prosecutors and police officers who initiated it). The public prosecutor is seeking a two year, four month prison sentence for defamation against President Erdoğan and a two year, two month prison sentence for defamation against his son Bilal Erdoğan. President Erdoğan has previously attempted to have Dündar tried for criminal defamation, but a May 2014 complaint was rejected by the public prosecutor. Dündar was also questioned on suspicion of presidential defamation on 26 February 2015 but no charges have yet been brought against him.
Dündar made the following comments to the press at the Çağlayan Courts of Justice on 26 February 2015 about the cases that President Erdoğan has brought against him:
‘President Erdoğan is pursuing his own policy of intimidation by bringing these cases; by considering every word, every criticism to be defamation. With the press already under siege, he is trying to intimidate all those who are making their voices heard in the media sphere by punishing them. But you will see that this does not pay off. Because we will continue to speak, continue to write. Perhaps while being prosecuted, perhaps while being subjected to threats, but without a doubt we will continue.’
PEN believes that the articles in question by Dündar constitute legitimate political criticism and calls on the public prosecutor’s office to drop the charges and end the investigation against him. Freedom of expression includes the right to offend, particularly within the context of thoughts and opinions relating to the politics of high-ranking government officials. The onus is on the Turkish courts to ensure that the prime minister’s personal rights are not unduly placed above those of others. Protecting the right to freedom of expression is all the more important when issues of public interest and political criticism are concerned and international freedom of expression mechanisms have recommended that defamation laws should reflect the importance of open debate about matters of public concern. They have urged states to ‘accept the principle that public figures are required to accept a greater degree of criticism than private citizens’ and to repeal, ‘in particular, laws which provide special protection for public figures’.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media have stated that that ‘criminal defamation is not a justifiable restriction on freedom of expression; all criminal defamation laws should be abolished and replaced, where necessary, with appropriate civil defamation laws’.
This approach was reinforced in a European Court of Human Rights case, Tuşalp v Turkey (2012), a defamation suit brought by Erdoğan against journalist Erbil Tuşalp. The European Court highlighted the relevance of the fact that Tuşalp’s scathing criticism of the prime minister involved ‘important matters in a democratic society of which the public had a legitimate interest in being informed and which fell within the scope of political debate.’ Regarding the ‘offensiveness’ of the words used by Tuşalp, the court held that ‘the protection of Article 10 [of the European Convention on Human Rights which relates to freedom of expression] was applicable not only to information or ideas that were favourably received but also to those which offended, shocked or disturbed.’ A crucial matter for consideration was the prime minister’s public position: ‘The limits of acceptable criticism were wider for a politician than a private individual. [The prime minister] would therefore have been obliged to display a greater degree of tolerance.’