Sürek and Özdemir v. Turkey
Closed Contracts Expression
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Eight men were convicted of spreading terrorism propaganda and inciting hatred because they created and shared information in a WhatsApp group. The chat group had over forty members.
In April 2014, eight men whose ages ranged from 21 to 38, created a WhatsApp chat group titled “Read, watch Listen. Act.” In the chat group, according to the prosecution, over 40 residents of Kazakhstan from various regions shared radical and extremist audio, video, and text files. The prosecution claimed that the shared messages called for its participants to join ISIL and to participate in jihad.
The 26 year old group-chat’s creator, Kayrat Bektenov, received a sentence of six years imprisonment. Two of the defendants alleged to have been tortured by the police and stated that they will appeal the decision. The other defendants admitted guilt.
The official decision is not available. Analysis is based on news and blog articles. Once the official decision becomes available, the section will be updated.
The court ruled that the defendants were guilty of violating the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Articles 233 and 164. Article 233, part 1, forbids the promotion of terrorist or extremist propaganda or public calls to terrorists acts. Article 164 forbids the incitement of social, national, tribal, racial, or religious enmity.
The court relied on the evidence of 21 witnesses, including other participants of the chat group, who were not charged because they were only passive participants in the group.
The creator of the group and two men who alleged that they have been tortured received six years. The other 5 received five years each.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
The decision contracts expression because the court did not require show of harm or risk of harm from the WhatsApp group in convicting the eight men.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
The decision is from the court of first instance that can be appealed.
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