Thursday, June 17, 2010

Freedom of Speech: ECHR punishes Turkey over banning of book

Source: International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX)

(BIANET/IFEX) - On 8 June 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) unanimously imposed a 3,000€ fine on Turkey after it ruled that the seizure of the book "Tarkan: The Star Phenomenon" violated freedom of expression. The book's publisher, Özcan Sapan, will receive 2,000€ in compensation, while the remaining 1,000€ will go towards court expenses.

The book, which was first published in 2001, is based on a study into the star phenomenon of the popular Turkish singer Tarkan, carried out by Associate Professor Dr. N. Aysun Yüksel, a member of the Faculty of Communication at Anatolia University. The study was published by Chiviyazıları Publishing. In her study, Yüksel focuses on the social and economic dynamics of the development of a star phenomenon, using the example of Tarkan.

On 17 September 2001, Tarkan filed a claim with an Istanbul court to have the book – which contains 31 portraits taken from different press publications and magazine covers – confiscated, alleging that it attacked his reputation and person. Three days later, the court decided in Tarkan's favour and ordered the book's seizure. Tarkan also filed a lawsuit against Sapan, demanding compensation.

The ECHR said in its ruling that the local court did not disclose any legal reasons for the ban on the book. According to the ECHR, the local court did not consider the expert reports in favour of Sapan, which were released after the seizure. The ECHR concluded that the book did not carry "sensational" features, but rather was to be seen as the result of a scientific study. The court found the reasons for the ban to be insufficient.