Turkey violated rights of student convicted of insulting Erdoğan, says ECHR

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday ruled that Turkey violated human rights of Ömür Çağdaş Ersoy, who was convicted in 2012 for his statements criticizing the then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The ECHR ruled that "Turkey violated aArticle 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the freedom of expression" in the case involving Ersoy, who at the time was a university student.

The court ordered Turkey to pay Ersoy 4,000 euros in compensation including court costs.

Ersoy during a protest in 2012 had called Erdoğan’s ruling AKP a “dictatorship,” which led to his conviction in the same year.

Insulting the president is a crime according to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Investigations and convictions on Article 299 have skyrocketed since Erdoğan stepped into office as president in 2014.

Lawsuits over the crime of insulting the president have increased by 9,000 percent since 2010, according to a 2021 report based on Justice Ministry data.

The ECHR on Tuesday released another decision concerning a Turkish civil servant was dismissed for liking Facebook posts.

The court considered the dismissal of Selma Melike a violation of her right to freedom of expression.

Melike's liking of political content shared by others on Facebook led to a disciplinary investigation and the subsequent termination of her contract.

Liking contents on social networks to show an approval is a common and popular form of exercising freedom of expression online, the court said, while ordering Turkey to pay Melike 2,000 euros in non-pecuniary damage.

Melike had applied to the court in 2019.