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European Court of Human Rights hit by cyber attack

The European Court of Human Rights. © Council of Europe

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has reported it was the victim of a cyber attack lasting several hours that took the system down temporarily.

No data was lost, a court spokesperson told the French news agency AFP, despite the fact that the attack was a major one.

The attack came only hours after the issue on Tuesday of a ruling severely condemning the government of Turkey for the detention in prison since 2016 of the Kurdish opposition leader and Turkish MP Selahattin Demirtas.

In a statement issued today, the court made it perfectly clear the two events were linked.

Following the delivery of the Selahattin Demirtas v. Turkey (no. 2) judgment on 22 December, the website of the European Court of Human Rights was the subject of a large- scale cyberattack which has made it temporarily inaccessible,”the statement read. “The Court strongly deplores this serious incident. The competent services are currently making every effort to remedy the situation as soon as possible.”

Demirtas had his parliamentary immunity lifted, and is being held in pre-trial detention charged with terrorist offences relating to speeches made. Since his arrest, his term of office as an MP for the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has expired.

The charges accuse him of membership of an armed terrorist organisation, and inciting others to commit a criminal offence – based entirely on his public speeches alone.

The ECHR found a number of irregularities in the Turkish procedure, as when a constitutional amendment was used to make it possible to prosecute dissidents like Demirtas for statements made under parliamentary immunity, before such statements retrospectively became a criminal offence.

The court also found that the Turkish judicial system had not clearly enumerated the terrorist offences held again him, and had restricted his freedom of expression by preventing him from carrying out his duties as an MP.

In the judgement, Turkey is ordered to “take all necessary measures to secure the applicant’s immediate release”. It was also ordered to pay Demirtas damages in the amount of €28,500.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times