Turkey violated rights of journalists reporting on leaked gov’t emails, says ECHR

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday ruled that Turkey violated the rights of two journalists who reported on e-mails of a top government official leaked by Turkish left-wing hacker group.

The freedom of expression and press of Tunca Öğreten and Mahir Kanaat, who were arrested for reporting on e-mails revealed by RedHack of former finance minister Berat Albayrak, was violated, the European court said.

Left-leaning hacker group RedHack in 2016 leaked emails belonging to the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which detailed Albayrak’s involvement in the transportation of Iraqi Kurdish oil, Erdoğan’s editorial pressure on the media, nepotism in civil service, and efforts to cover upcorruption during a 2013 investigation, among others.

Kanaat, who worked for BirGün daily and Öğreten, who worked for news website Diken, were taken into police custody on terror charges for reporting on the leaked 17 GB of data, which was republished by WikiLeaks.

Both journalists were released in 2007, after spending over 300 days in pre-trial detention.

The detention and arrest of Öğreten and Kanaat were not adequately justified, the ECHR said, adding that coverage of e-mails published by WikiLeaks constituted “freedom of press”.

The ECHR has ordered the Turkish government to pay 21,950 euros ($26,820) to Öğreten and 16,250 euros ($19,855) to Kanaat as compensation.