The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the appeal case lodged against Turkey's Constitutional Court alleging it violated the rights of Fetullah Gülen, head of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), was inadmissible.
In a verdict on Friday, the court shot down all six of Gülen's applications demanding the retraction of news articles about him published in Turkey in 2015. The court rejected Gülen's claim that he was discriminated against by Turkey's Constitutional Court in his appeals.
Gülen, who lives in the United States, took his case to the ECtHR when Turkish courts denied his requests for the retraction of news articles about him and FETÖ. He has claimed his right to a fair trial had been violated.
The ECtHR said in its ruling that the Turkish court's rejection of Gülen's appeals was lawful and covered under protection of privacy acts but also mentioned that Gülen failed to file compensation lawsuits for the news articles and did not file any criminal complaints. The verdict highlighted that Turkish laws do allow for the protection of plaintiffs' rights but that the "applicant" did not take the correct legal path for the case. The European court prioritizes cases that have "exhausted all legal means" in local courts before allowing them to seek a trial at the ECtHR.
The court mentioned in its verdict that Gülen's claim his right to a fair trial was violated is "without basis." Similarly, his claim that the courts in Turkey were not “neutral and independent” was deemed “without basis.”
Gülen, whose terrorist group was behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others in Turkey, has faced a barrage of trials since 2013. It was the year that police chiefs, prosecutors and judges linked to the group tried to topple the government under the guise of graft probes. It was the first blatant attempt by the group to seize power and was followed by Turkey’s decision to designate FETÖ the title of “national threat” first and later, as a terrorist group. Investigations after the 2013 attempt revealed a far-reaching network of FETÖ infiltrators from the judiciary to law enforcement and bureaucracy. FETÖ, which managed to wield influence briefly after the 2013 attempt, has retaliated with an influx of lawsuits against articles reporting their crimes under investigation.
The 2016 coup attempt accelerated action against the terrorist group and tens of thousands of people linked to FETÖ were arrested or detained. Police still carry out operations almost on a daily basis against fugitive members and those who managed to hide their links to the group.
Since the coup attempt, the ECtHR declined to hear tens of thousands of cases related to those arrested or dismissed from duty. In most cases, the court rejected them on the grounds that the applicants had failed to exhaust judicial procedures in Turkey. Under Turkey's state of emergency decrees, which were imposed after the coup attempt, those dismissed from their jobs are entitled to have their cases reviewed by a commission. The court referred to this procedure in its rejection of cases, according to a report by Anadolu Agency (AA).
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