The ECHR held that Turkey was to pay the applicant Ahmet Yıldırım 7,500 euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 1,000 in respect of costs and expenses.
"The effects of the measure in question had therefore been arbitrary and the judicial review of the blocking of access had been insufficient to prevent abuses. There had therefore been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention," the verdict said, pointing out the arbitrary nature and ineffectiveness of the Turkish court decision to block Google Sites.
In June 2009, the Denizli Criminal Court of First Instance ordered the blocking of an Internet site whose owner had been accused of insulting the memory of Atatürk. The order was issued as a preventive measure in the context of criminal proceedings against the site’s owner.
The blocking order was submitted for execution to the Telecommunications Directorate which stated later on that this was the only technical means of blocking the offending site, as its owner lived abroad.
Since then, Mr Yıldırım complained that he was unable to access his own site, on which he published "his academic work and his opinions on various matters".
"The interference resulting from the application of section 8 of Law no. 5651 had thus failed to meet the foreseeability requirement under the Convention," the ECHR statement said.
The Court also pointed out that Article 10 of the Convention stated that the right to freedom of expression applied “regardless of frontiers”.
In March 2011, Google Sites case was merged with another ban case Last.Fm in Turkey by the order of ECHR. No verdict has yet been announced on the case.
The verdict was long expected by internet freedom activists in Turkey. Ayşe Kaymak from Alternative Telecommunications Association said access restrictions do not only apply to illegal web content: "It also effects all other users and violates basic freedoms recognized by European Declaration of Human Rights." (EÖ/HK)
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