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Turkish actress wins European court ‘terrace kiss’ privacy case

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on Tuesday ruled against Turkey for failing to protect the private life of a prominent Turkish actress who had been secretly filmed kissing another celebrity at her home in footage broadcast on television, Agence France-Presse reported.

Birsen Berrak Tüzünataç, a cinema and Turkish soap opera actress, won the marathon case at the Strasbourg-based ECtHR which ruled that Turkey had violated the European Convention of Human Rights by throwing out her domestic legal complaints.

The actress, now 38, had in 2010 filed a suit in Turkey against the parent company of a Turkish television channel that had filmed her “kissing” another Turkish celebrity “on the terrace” of her home.

She said she had been filmed without her knowledge, in breach of her right to privacy, but the İstanbul regional court in 2013 dismissed her claim on the grounds that she had been filmed from the street and that there had been no intrusion into her home.

Its ruling was then upheld by both Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals and its Constitutional Court.

The ECtHR referred to the male actor involved only by the initials S.G.. However Turkish media had widely reported that he is Şahan Gökbakar, one of the most famous screen faces in the country and the star of blockbuster comic movies.

In its ruling, the ECtHR said that despite their fame, “a person’s love life is in principle of a strictly private nature” while the video in question “seems to have had the sole purpose of satisfying the curiosity of a certain audience.”

It said that as the reporting failed to adhere to the “standards of responsible journalism,” the domestic courts in Turkey “should have shown greater rigor when weighing the various interests involved.”

It ruled that Turkey had violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which enshrines respect for a person’s private life.

Turkish TV celebrities like Tüzünataç, while little known in the West, face immense scrutiny at home in the soap-mad country, where Turkish newspapers and websites are filled with pictures of homegrown celebrities at work and play.

The ECtHR, part of the pan-European rights body the Council of Europe, has regularly ruled against Turkey in recent months over cases of detained opposition figures such as the civil society activist Osman Kavala and Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş.

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