Euro court finds Turkey guilty in communications interception case after CHP lawmaker files complaint

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on July 18 that a Turkish court granting the National Intelligence of Turkey (MİT) permission to intercept all domestic and international communications between April 8 and May 30, 2005 constituted a violation of privacy in breach of the law.

The ruling came after Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu filed a complaint in 2006 to the ECHR regarding the Turkish court’s decision, which he said the interception measures amounted to abuse of the national legislation in force at the time.

The decision was taken by the Diyarbakır Heavy Penal Court on May 6, 2005 and involved granting the National Intelligence Agency with the interception, monitoring and examination of electronic communications of everyone in Turkey for about a month and a half with a view to identifying terrorist suspects.

Shortly after, the CHP lawmaker Tanrıkulu filed a criminal complaint against the Diyarbakır judge who had made the decision, the public prosecutor and the intelligence officers involved in both requesting as well as implementing the decision.

However, the prosecuting authorities decided not to prosecute the intelligence officers as implementing court decisions did not constitute a crime. The Ministry of Justice decided not to take any action against the public prosecutor or judge as it said their acts had fallen within judicial discretion and the decision of May 2005 had been in the interests of national security.

On July 18, 2017, the ECHR ruled that there had been a violation to the fundamental human right to privacy, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention. The court also found Turkey in violation of Article 13 of the convention because the applicant had no effective remedy before a national authority to pursue alleged violations of the convention.

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