16 May 2019 – This expert opinion has been prepared to advise on the compatibility of the charges brought against journalist, Fatih Polat with international and European law and standards on freedom of expression. We understand that this opinion will be relied upon by the defendant in the case currently pending before the Bakırköy 31st Criminal Court of First Instance.
In this opinion, we conclude that the provisions, under which the defendant has been charged: charges of insulting the President of the Republic (ARTICLE 299 of the Turkish Criminal Code) do not comply with international and European standards of freedom of expression.
ARTICLE 19 finds that Polat’s publication for which he has been charged was of the utmost public interest, which attracts enhanced protection, as per the established case law of the European court. As the gist of the challenged publication is the murky relationship between members of President Erdoğan’s family and certain businessmen, it constitutes a matter of great public and political concern and part of an on-going public debate in Turkey and internationally which must be allowed expression.
In light of these observations, ARTICLE 19 submits that the criminal prosecution of Polat in this case constitutes an interference that is not necessary in a democratic society and accordingly violates his right to freedom of expression.
ARTICLE 19 submitted this expert opinion to Polat’s hearing on 14 May 2019.