Restrictions to freedom of speech in Turkey: The case of journalist Abdurrahman Dilipak

Abdurrahman Dilipak. Photo:

Abdurrahman Dilipak. Photo:

Abdurrahman Dilipak has spent four decades as a journalist and human rights activist in Turkey. His writing would come to an abrupt halt in August 2003 after publishing an article criticising high ranking members of the Turkish military. Charged with “damaging hierarchical relations within the army,” and “denigrating the armed forces,” he spent six and half years defending his rights before the criminal courts.

Judgment by the European Court of Human Rights

In September 2015, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in his favour, finding that the criminal proceedings constituted an attempt “to suppress ideas or opinions considered as disruptive or shocking.” Accordingly, there had been a violation of article 10 of European Convention on Human Rights, protecting the right to freedom of speech.

Yet to this day, many journalists like Abdurrahman remain under threat. In 2018, The Committee of ministers ruled that despite improvements, Turkey’s legislative framework was insufficient to ensure full compliance with Convention standards regarding freedom of expression.

Country Situation

Freedom House recently labelled Turkey the world’s worst Jailor of journalists.  In Turkey, journalists are routinely intimidated, harassed and subjected to violence and politically motivated prosecutions. The constitution does allow for freedom of expression. In practice, however, opponents of the government can be prosecuted for any number of vague and broadly framed charges such as praising a crime or criminals and inciting the population to enmity, hatred, or denigration. The political climate worsened in the months following the attempted coup, leading to an estimated 175 journalists being jailed in 2018.

Useful links to the ALTUG TANER AKÇAM GROUP v Turkey (Application No 27520/07) and Dilipak v Turkey (Application No 29680/05):

The Dilipak v Turkey case is part of the Altug Taner Akcam group v Turkey.

  • Final judgment by the European Court of Human Rights on the Altug Taner group (as of 25/1/2012)

  • Final judgment by the European Court of Human Rights on the Dilipak v Turkey case (as of 2/5/2016)

  • Dilipak v Turkey case details