CASE OF HALLDÓRSSON v. ICELAND
(Application no. 44322/13)
4 July 2017
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Halldorsson v. Iceland,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Jon Fridrik Kjølbro,
Stéphanie Mourou-Vikström, judges,
Oddný Mjöll Arnardóttir, ad hoc judge,
and Hasan Bakırcı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 13 June 2017,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 44322/13) against the Republic of Iceland lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by an Icelandic national, Mr Svavar Halldórsson (“the applicant”), on 30 April 2013.
2. The applicant was represented by Ms Hulda Árnadóttir, a lawyer practising in Reykjavik. The Icelandic Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms Ragnhildur Hjaltadóttir, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior.
3. The applicant complained, under Article 10 of the Convention, that the Supreme Court’s judgment of 15 November 2012 had entailed an interference with his right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Convention that was not necessary in a democratic society.
4. Mr Robert Spano, the judge elected in respect of Iceland, withdrew from the case (Rule 28). Accordingly, Ms Oddný Mjöll Arnardóttir was appointed to sit as an ad hoc judge (Article 26 § 4 of the Convention and Rule 29 § 1).
5. On 20 November 2015 the application was communicated to the Government.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
6. The applicant was born in 1970 and lives in Hafnarfjörður. At the material time, the applicant was working as a journalist for the newsroom of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (hereinafter “the RUV”).
7. The RUV is an independent public service broadcaster, comprising television, radio and online services. The RUV broadcasts news programmes on television every evening at 7 p.m. that last for about 40 minutes. During the news programmes, a series of news items is first introduced by a news anchor in a studio, and then each news item is presented by different news reporters, whether current events, live or pre-recorded interviews or editorial content.
8. On 24 May, 28 May and 6 December 2010 the RUV broadcast news items, prepared and presented by the applicant, on its news programme at 7 p.m. The subject of all three news items was a loan transaction of 3,000,000,000 Icelandic Krónur (ISK; approximately EUR 19,736,842 at the exchange rate applicable in December 2010) between an Icelandic company, Y, and a shelf company in Panama, that had been written off in its entirety. The news items were introduced by a news anchor and then a film clip was played, showing pictures related to the subject of the news item while the applicant narrated.
9. On the evening news on 24 May 2010 the news anchor introduced the news items, stating that the authorities were investigating whether the ISK 3,000,000,000 had made its way back to Iceland and that there was a suspicion that B, the owner of company Y, had returned the money to his business partners. In the film clip, the applicant stated that the Icelandic authorities believed that they had found the money trail and they thought that the money had made its way back to Iceland, not necessarily into B’s pockets but into those of his business partners. The applicant then speculated on who the business partners might be and pictures were shown, inter alia, of A, a prominent businessman in Iceland. Lastly, the applicant stated that the question of where the money had ended up would be answered after the authorities’ investigation.
10. On the evening news on 28 May 2010, the news anchor introduced the news items by stating that the authorities were investigating whether B, A and C, an investor in Iceland, had jointly planned a business deal where ISK 3,000,000,000 seemed to vanish in Panama. Furthermore, the anchor stated that documents, from the year 2007 and onwards, supported this suspicion and that the documents indicated that the money had found its way back into the pockets of the same group. In the film clip the applicant stated that the authorities believed that they had found the money trail, as had been previously reported, and that they were in possession of documents indicating that A, B and C had planned the Panama deal in advance, in order to send the money to Panama and then back into their own pockets again, via a circuitous route. Pictures of A, B and C were shown on the screen with the text “under investigation” written below each picture.
11. On the evening news on 6 December 2010 the news anchor introduced the news item. In the film clip, the applicant stated that in the spring of 2007 company Y had loaned ISK 3,000,000,000 to the company in Panama. The funds had been transferred to Panama on 24 April 2007 and six days later, on 30 April 2007, a loan agreement had been prepared. On the same day, the loan had been written off in its entirety from the accounts of company Y. Furthermore, the applicant stated that B had issued a declaration claiming that there was nothing suspicious about the loan. Lastly, the applicant stated: “The Icelandic authorities have also searched for the funds, as we have previously reported, and they believe that they have found the money trail, as they have documents indicating that [B], [A] and [C] organised the Panama deal in advance. That is, they sent the money to Panama, and later the money found its way back, through several detours, into the pockets of the threesome”. Pictures of A, B and C were shown above a world map, a pile of money was shown being divided up into three parts in Panama and each part was then visually transferred to the pictures of the men.
12. On the same day, a corresponding article was published on RUV’s website. After the news broadcast, A issued a press release. The online news article was updated to include the press release.
13. On 12 January 2011 A lodged defamation proceedings against the applicant before the Reykjaness District Court and requested that the words “[A]” and “threesome” in the above-mentioned statement of the news item broadcast on 6 December 2010 be declared null and void.
14. Before the domestic courts, the applicant maintained that he had based the news item on information from sources, both verbal and written, that he deemed highly trustworthy. Furthermore, the applicant maintained that when he had prepared the news item he had attempted to contact A by telephone, in vain.
15. During the proceedings before the District Court the applicant submitted a letter dated 5 September 2011 from the Special Prosecutor confirming that the loan transaction, which was the subject of the news items, had been reported to the police and was under investigation. The Special Prosecutor also stated that this had been confirmed in the media in July 2011. It does not transpire from the letter from the Special Prosecutor whether A was under investigation as a suspect or charged. The applicant did not, during the proceedings before the District Court submit any other documents or evidence to in support of the information concerning A presented in the news items.
16. By judgment of 3 November 2011 the District Court found for the applicant. In its reasoning it referred to the right to freedom of expression and the protection of private life as guaranteed by the Icelandic Constitution.
17. The judgment contained the following reasoning:
“...The banking collapse of 2008 caused great changes to the business environment and society in general. A wave of bankruptcies hit companies and individuals, the value of the krona plummeted and changes were made to the ruling government, to name a few. The media have covered these events since the crisis began and the individuals involved have also been the subject of news coverage, including [A]. In determining whether the content of the news item is a part of the social debate and therefore of public interest, it should be kept in mind that [A] himself, as well as the companies he has represented, has been in the media and public debate for many years. [A] has also been very prominent in business, both here and abroad, and in both a negative and positive light. [Company Z], led by [A], was a large shareholder in [F] ..., and held an active share in G...Bank. News about [A] has therefore more often than not been about his role in the banking collapse, and after the collapse of the Icelandic banks in the autumn of 2008 the media was full of news on the banking collapse and crisis, the reasons behind them and related matters. The media have been called upon to disseminate all material that could be of public interest, especially if the content might shed light on elements pertaining to parties who have played key roles in the Icelandic economy. In the light of the circumstances that developed after the banking collapse, [A] will have to withstand personal discussion of his actions and participation in business. Loan facilities and transfers of funds occurring in the lead-up to the bank failure are important news stories that are relevant to the general public. Restricting that discussion through sanctions should only be done after great consideration.
[The applicant] has stated that the news item is based on sources, both verbal and written, that he finds trustworthy. [The applicant] cannot be asked to prove these statements, as the journalist’s right to protect his sources and their identity has been upheld in judicial rulings. [The applicant] has also sufficiently demonstrated that he tried to contact [A] before he delivered the news item and he has therefore not violated the National Broadcasting Service’s procedures in that respect.
The Court does not agree with [A] that he is accused of actions punishable by law in the news item. The news item must be assessed as a whole and not on the basis of individual statements in the piece. As previously noted, the Court must consider the circumstances under which the statements are made, that they are necessary for a social debate on the causes and repercussions of the bank failure and also that some discrepancies can occur when dealing with complicated loan facilities and business deals. When the statements on [A] are assessed in this light, they are not found to violate the provisions of Articles 234 or 235 of the Penal Code no. 19/1940. ...”
18. On 30 January 2012 A appealed against the District Court’s judgment to the Supreme Court.
19. By a judgment of 15 November 2012 the Supreme Court overturned the District Court judgment and ordered the applicant to pay ISK 300,000 (approximately 2,600 euros (EUR)) to A in compensation for non-pecuniary damage, plus interest and ISK 1,000,000 (approximately 8,800 EUR) for A’s legal costs before the domestic courts. The two words were declared null and void.
20. The judgment contained the following reasoning:
“... In assessing where the line should be drawn between freedom of expression, as protected by Article 73 of the Constitution, and the right to privacy, as protected by Article 71 of the Constitution, it is important to determine whether the content published can be considered a part of the social debate and therefore of public interest, see the Supreme Court judgments of 1 June 2006 in case no. 541/2005, 1 March 2007 in case no. 278/2006, 10 November 2011 in case no. 65/2011 and 24 November 2011 in case no. 100/2011. The media play an important role in disseminating information and opinions on social issues. The public has a right to information on such issues and there must be particularly strong reasons for determining that limitations on media freedom are warranted in a democratic society. The collapse that occurred in the Icelandic economy following the failure of the three Icelandic commercial banks in the autumn of 2008 has had a significant and broad effect on all activity in the country and the general public’s quality of life. Public debate and media coverage have been very focused on identifying the preceding events and reasons for the collapse, and reporting on the financial business of individuals has often been personal.
When the content of the news item debated in this case is assessed as a whole, and the disputed remarks are evaluated in context with other statements in the news report and in consideration of the visual presentation, the comments clearly implied that [A] had committed an act which was punishable in accordance with the Penal Code no. 19/1940.
[The applicant] has not presented any documents supporting the legitimacy of the statements, for which he has to bear the burden, as it was incumbent on him rather than [A] to secure such evidence. [The applicant] has also not demonstrated that he sought information from [A] on the content while preparing the news report. He therefore failed in his duty, as outlined in Article 2 of the National Broadcast Service’s Rules on News and Related Programming dated 1 May 2008, to seek “... information from both or all parties and attempt to show their points of view as equally as possible”. The Supreme Court therefore finds that [the applicant] could not have been acting in good faith as pertains to the accuracy of the remarks in the news piece. Therefore [A’s] demand for the quoted statements to be declared null and void is granted, pursuant to Article 241, cf. Article 235 of the Penal Code.”
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
21. The relevant provisions of the Icelandic Constitution (Stjórnarskrá lýðveldisins Íslands), the Penal Code (Almenn Hegningarlög) and the Tort Liability Act (Skaðabótalög) are set out in the case of Erla Hlynsdottir v. Iceland (no. 3), no. 54145/10, § 18 to 22, 2 June 2015.
22. Section 26 of the Broadcasting Act No. 53/2000 (Útvarpslög) reads:
Where broadcasting of programme material contravenes the law the following shall apply in respect of criminal liability and liability for damages:
a. Persons presenting programme material in their own name shall be responsible for that material. This applies both to live broadcasts and broadcasts of recorded material. The provisions of this paragraph shall also apply to broadcast interviews, each participant appearing in his or her own name being responsible for his or her personal contribution.
b. Presenters shall be responsible for any material composed by another person.
c. Advertisers shall be responsible for their own advertisements.
d. The broadcaster’s Managing Director shall be responsible for all other material.
e. Broadcasters shall be responsible for the payment of fines and damages that their employees incur pursuant to this Section. Fines and damages may be collected from the broadcaster by an order of attachment.”
23. Section 2 of the Rules on News and Related Content on the National Broadcasting Services provides:
“News and other related material shall be reported on with fairness and impartiality. Both or all parties shall be contacted for information and their views shall be introduced as equally as possible. News reporters and producers cannot let their personal opinions or interest influence their work. News reporters and producers shall not participate in the work of political parties or associations. Participation in other kinds of representative associations shall be with the knowledge of the news and production director.”
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 10 OF THE CONVENTION
24. The applicant complained that the Supreme Court’s judgment of 15 November 2012 had entailed an interference with his right to freedom of expression that was not necessary in a democratic society and did not pursue a legitimate aim and thus violated Article 10 of the Convention, which reads as follows:
“1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. 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. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”
25. The Government contested that argument.
26. The Court notes that the application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
1. The parties’ submissions
(a) The applicant
27. The applicant maintained that Article 8 of the Convention was not at issue in the case because the statements had not affected A’s reputation to a sufficient degree. The statements were not defamatory or innuendoes against A. There was nothing presented in the news item to the effect that A had been guilty of a financial crime or other actions punishable by law.
28. The applicant stated that the news item concerned reports of loan facilities and international financial transfers that had taken place before the financial crisis and it had contributed to an ongoing and pressing social debate on the circumstances in Iceland leading up to the crisis in 2008. The media had been covering these events and the individuals involved, including A, who had been widely known as an important figure in the Icelandic business sector prior to the financial crisis. A had been in the spotlight, a part of a public debate in Iceland for a long time, both in relation to his various business dealings and court proceedings, and therefore he had to sustain closer scrutiny of his acts than a private individual or an ordinary professional. In the applicant’s view the interests of A could not outweigh his freedom of expression when imparting information on important matters of legitimate public concern.
29. The applicant claimed that he had acted in good faith when preparing the news item, relying on sufficiently accurate evidence, verbal and written information from more than one source, which he considered highly reliable. The Supreme Court had expected him to present documents in the case which proved the legitimacy of the statements beyond doubt. The burden of proof imposed on him by the Supreme Court had not been legitimate or possible to meet as he had the right to protect his sources and to keep them, and the documentation behind news items, confidential.
30. In addition he had tried to contact A, via telephone and email, when preparing the news piece. After the broadcast A had released a press statement which was included in the corresponding news article online later the same day. The applicant had therefore acted in good faith to provide accurate and reliable information in accordance with the ethics of journalism. The broadcast had been put forth in an objective manner and the style had not been provocative or exaggerated.
(b) The Government
31. In the Government’s opinion, the impugned restriction on the applicant’s exercise of freedom of expression had corresponded to a pressing social need and had been justified by relevant and sufficient reasons, namely A’s reputation and honour. The measures taken had been proportionate to the legitimate aimed pursued. Furthermore, the Supreme Court, in its assessment, had applied the standards that were in conformity with the principles embodied in Articles 8 and 10 of the Convention as interpreted in the Court’s case-law.
32. The Government maintained that the statements, including the impugned words, had been statements of fact which the applicant had failed to present in a balanced manner. The statements had been untrue and insinuated criminal behaviour on the part of A. The applicant had lacked evidence to support the statements, and his attempt to contact A to verify the information before the broadcast had been vague at best. He had failed to abide by the journalistic duties identified by the Court to prepare the material in good faith. In the Government’s opinion, the applicant should be required to verify statements made by his or her sources, and thus exercise care in the gathering, use and presentation of material.
33. The Government claimed that, even though the aftermath of the financial crisis in Iceland in 2008 was an important social matter relevant to public debate, the impugned statements had not contributed to public debate on social issues.
34. As regards the applicant’s claim about A’s press statement being published with the news article online, the Government maintained that this argument had not been a part of the applicant’s initial complaint and did not appear to have been raised before the domestic courts. That indicated that the applicant had not been responsible for publishing the statement, or even aware of it.
2. The Court’s assessment
(a) Whether there was an interference
35. It is common ground between the parties that the impugned judgment constituted an “interference by [a] public authority” with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under the first paragraph of Article 10.
(b) Whether it was prescribed by law and pursued a legitimate aim
36. It is not in dispute that the impugned measure had a basis in Articles s235 and 241 of the Penal Code, Section 26 of the Broadcasting Act and Section 26 of the Tort Liability Act. The Court is moreover satisfied that the interference pursued the legitimate aim of protecting “the reputation or rights of others”.
(c) Whether the interference was necessary in a democratic society
(i) General principles
37. The principles concerning the question of whether an interference with freedom of expression is “necessary in a democratic society” are well established in the Court’s case-law (see, among other authorities, Delfi AS v. Estonia [GC], no. 64569/09, § 131 to 132, ECHR 2015, with further references).
38. The Court has held that a person’s reputation, even if that person is being criticised in the context of a public debate, forms part of his or her personal identity and psychological integrity and therefore falls within the scope of his or her “private life”. In order for Article 8 to come into play, the attack on personal honour and reputation must attain a certain level of gravity and in a manner causing prejudice to personal enjoyment of the right to respect for private life (see, inter alia, A. v. Norway, no. 28070/06, § 64, 9 April 2009).
39. Having been required on numerous occasions to consider disputes requiring an examination of the fair balance to be struck between the right to respect for private life and the right to freedom of expression, the Court has developed general principles emerging from abundant case-law in this area (see, among other authorities, Couderc and Hachette Filipacchi Associés v. France [GC], no. 40454/07, §§ 83 to 93, ECHR 2015 (extracts)).
40. The criteria which are relevant when balancing the right to freedom of expression against the right to respect for private life are inter alia: the contribution to a debate of general interest; how well known the person concerned is and what the subject of the report is; his or her prior conduct; the method of obtaining the information and its veracity; the content, form and consequences of the publication; and the severity of the sanction imposed (see, for example, Axel Springer AG v. Germany [GC], no. 39954/08, §§ 83 and 89 to 95, 7 February 2012 and Von Hannover v. Germany (no. 2) [GC], nos. 40660/08 and 60641/08, §§ 108 to 113, ECHR 2012). Finally, the Court recalls that where the national authorities have weighed up the interests at stake in compliance with the criteria laid down in the Court’s case-law, strong reasons are required if it is to substitute its view for that of the domestic courts (see, Bedat v. Switzerland [GC], no. 56925/09, § 54, ECHR 2016).
(ii) Application of those principles to the present case
41. In the present case the Court finds it appropriate to examine the above-mentioned principles in the following order; the content, form and consequences of the publication; how well known the person concerned is and the prior conduct of the person concerned; the subject matter of the report and the contribution to the debate of general interest; the method of obtaining the information and its veracity; and the severity of the sanctions imposed.
(α) Content, form and consequences of the impugned article
42. The Court notes that the Supreme Court, in its judgment of 15 November 2012, conducted a thorough assessment of the news item, concluding that “when the content of the news item debated in this case is assessed as a whole, and the disputed remarks are evaluated in context with other statements in the news item and in consideration of the visual presentation, the comment clearly implied that [A] had had committed an act which was punishable in accordance with the Penal Code no. 19/1940”. Under Article 241 of the Penal Code, the Supreme Court declared the impugned words null and void. Thus, in the assessment of the Supreme Court, the news item for which the applicant was responsible contained accusation of a factual nature concerning unlawful and criminal acts.
43. The Court sees no reason to call into question the Supreme Court’s evaluation on this point. It is also satisfied that the attack on A’s reputation reached the level of seriousness, and that its manner caused prejudice to A’s enjoyment of the right to respect for private life, so as to fall within the scope of Article 8 of the Convention (see, inter alia, A. v. Norway, no. 28070/06, § 64, 9 April 2009).
44. In this respect, it is recalled that the potential impact of the medium of expression concerned is an important factor in the consideration of the proportionality of an interference and that the audio-visual media have a more immediate and powerful effect than the print media (see, for example, Jersild v. Denmark, judgment of 23 September 1994, § 31, Series A no. 298).
(β) How well known the person concerned is and his conduct prior to the publication of the impugned article
45. The District Court, in its judgment of 3 November 2011, stated, inter alia, that A, as well as the companies he represented, had been in the media and public debate for many years. A had also been very prominent in business, in Iceland and abroad, both in a negative and positive light. A company led by him had held an active share in one of the three major Icelandic banks and news of A had therefore more often than not been about his role in the banking collapse.
46. The Supreme Court did not directly comment in its reasoning on A’s status within the context of the applicant’s reporting. However, examining the reasoning of the Supreme Court in its entirety, the Court deems it sufficiently demonstrated that the Supreme Court proceeded on the basis that A was to be considered a public person for the purposes of its assessment. Therefore the limits of acceptable criticism were accordingly wider than in the case of a private individual (see Couderc and Hachette Filipacchi Associés v. France [GC], no. 40454/07, §§ 117 to 123, ECHR 2015 (extracts), with further references). However, the Court further notes that while reporting on true facts about politicians’ or other public persons’ private life may be admissible in certain circumstances, even persons known to the public have a legitimate expectation of protection of, and respect for, their private life (see Standard Verlags GmbH v. Austria (no. 2), no. 21277/05, § 53, 4 June 2009).
(γ) The subject matter of the report and contribution to a debate of general interest
47. The Supreme Court, in its judgment of 6 December 2010, stated, inter alia, the following: “In assessing where the line should be drawn between freedom of expression, as protected by Article 73 of the Constitution, and the right to privacy, as protected by Article 71 of the Constitution, it is important to determine whether the content published can be considered a part of the social debate and therefore of public interest, ... . The media play an important role in disseminating information and opinions on social issues. The public has a right to information on such issues and there must be particularly strong reasons for determining that limitations on media freedom are warranted in a democratic society. The collapse that occurred in the Icelandic economy following the failure of the three Icelandic commercial banks in the autumn of 2008 has had a significant and broad effect on all activity in the country and the general public’s quality of life.”
48. Thus, the Supreme Court took into account that the subject matter of the disputed news item was, as such, an issue of public interest.
(δ) Method of obtaining the information and its veracity
49. In its judgment, the Supreme Court stated that the applicant “[had] not presented any documents supporting the legitimacy of the statements, for which he has to bear the burden, as it was incumbent on him rather than A to secure such evidence”. The applicant had also not demonstrated that he had sought information from A on the content while preparing the news item. He had therefore failed in his duty, as outlined in Article 2 of the National Broadcast Service’s Rules on News and Related Programming dated 1 May 2008, to seek “... information from both or all parties and attempt to show their points of view as equally as possible”. The court concluded that the applicant could not have been acting in good faith as pertains to the accuracy of the remarks in the news item.
50. On this point the Court likewise sees no reason to call into question the Supreme Court’s conclusions. It reiterates that the safeguard afforded by Article 10 to journalists in relation to reporting on issues of general interest is subject to the provision that they are acting in good faith and on an accurate factual basis and provide “reliable and precise” information in accordance with the ethics of journalism (see, for example, Bédat, cited above, § 58). Furthermore, the Court finds that there were no special grounds in the present case to dispense the media from their ordinary obligation to verify factual statements that are defamatory of private individuals (see, inter alia, Björk Eiðsdóttir v. Iceland, no. 46443/09, § 71, 10 July 2012).
51. The applicant referred to the right to protect his sources and to keep his sources and the documentation behind the news items confidential. The Court reiterates in this respect that protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for press freedom without which sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public concern (see, for example, Ruokanen and Others v. Finland, no. 45130/06, § 47, 6 April 2010). In the present case, however, the applicant was at no stage required to disclose the identity of his sources. Furthermore, in the view of the Court, a mere reference to protection of sources cannot exempt a journalist from the obligation to prove the veracity of or have sufficient factual basis for serious accusations of a factual nature, an obligation that can be met without necessarily having to reveal the sources in question.
52. The Court further notes that the applicant requested and received confirmation from the public prosecutor about an ongoing investigation into the loan transaction, but only after the defamation case at hand had been instigated. Moreover, this letter only confirmed that the loan transaction had been reported and was under investigation. It did not state that A had been charged, indicted, or was on trial or had been convicted of a crime (see paragraph 13 above).
(ε) Severity of the sanction imposed
53. The Court notes that the defamation proceedings brought by A against the applicant ended in an order by the Supreme Court declaring the impugned words null and void and requiring the applicant to pay to A ISK 300,000 in compensation for non-pecuniary damage, plus interest, and 1,000,000 ISK for A’s costs before the domestic courts.
54. The Court does not find the compensation excessive in the circumstances or to be of such a kind as to have a “chilling effect” on the exercise of media freedom (see, inter alia, Pedersen and Baadsgaard v. Denmark [GC], no. 49017/99, § 93, ECHR 2004-XI, with further references).
55. In the light of all the above-mentioned considerations, the Court considers that the Supreme Court balanced the right of freedom of expression with the right to respect for private life, and took into account the criteria set out in the Court’s case-law. The Court recalls that, although opinions may differ on the outcome of a judgment, “where the balancing exercise has been undertaken by the national authorities in conformity with the criteria laid down in the Court’s case law, the Court would require strong reasons to substitute its own view for that of the domestic courts” (see paragraph 39 above). The Supreme Court acted within the margin of appreciation afforded to it and struck a reasonable balance between the measures imposed, restricting the right to freedom of expression, and the legitimate aim pursued.
56. The Court therefore concludes that there has been no violation of Article 10 of the Convention.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
1. Declares the application admissible;
2. Holds that there has been no violation of Article 10 of the Convention.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 4 July 2017, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Hasan Bakırcı Julia
Deputy Registrar President