Turkish Cypriot journalist sues Turkey at ECHR for rights violation
Prominent Turkish Cypriot journalist Sener Levent, the editor-in-chief of the left-wing Avrupa newspaper has filed a lawsuit against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for violating his right of freedom of expression.
Levent’s lawyer Oncel Polili said Turkey has violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, an article stating that “everyone has the right to freedom of expression”.
Polili also said that Sener was “judicially harassed” by Ankara for the repeated criminal cases filed against him, Cyprus Mail reported on Tuesday.
A Turkish court in May has sentenced opposition journalist Levent to one year in prison for “insulting” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over a cartoon published in Avrupa newspaper in 2017. The cartoon depicted an ancient Greek statue urinating on Erdogan’s head.
In 2019, Levent was tried and acquitted by a Turkish Cypriot court in the same case, when the Turkish ambassador to the Northern Cyprus had brought the charges against him. However, Turkey who didn’t recognize the Turkish Cypriot court’s ruling, filed another case in Ankara on same charges.
“This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers,” Levent’s lawyer said.
In 2018, Levent also faced assassination attempts by angry mobs when hundreds of protesters attacked the offices of the newspaper in capital Nicosia, after he criticized Turkey’s military operation into Syria’s Afrin in an article. The attack came after Erdogan denounced the newspaper as “cheap and nasty” and called on Turkey’s “brothers” in North Cyprus to give the “necessary response” to Sener Levent.
Currently, there are a total of seven criminal cases pending against Levent in Turkish Cypriot courts and another three in Turkish courts, Cyprus Mail said, citing an article published on Avrupa newspaper.
The Turkish Cypriot administration was established in the northern third of Cyprus after Turkey’s invasion of the island in 1974, in response to a Greek Cypriot coup d’etat, aiming to unify the island with Greece (ENOSIS).
Internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, governed by the Greek Cypriots, controls the south of the island, and the Turkish Cypriots, the north. The administration in the northern part of Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey.