EGMR: Forthcoming judgment on Tuesday 13 October 2015 – Bremner v. Turkey (no. 37428/06)

The applicant, Dion Ross Bremner, is an Australian national who was born in 1967 and lives in Strathfield (Australia). The case concerns the broadcasting of a television documentary in which Mr Bremner appears as a “foreign pedlar of religion” engaged in secret activities in Turkey.

In June 1997 the producers of the programme had been contacted by a certain A.N., who had responded to an advertisement offering books free of charge. In return he had received books about Christianity. Following telephone calls between A.N. and the sender, Mr Bremner, a meeting was filmed with a hidden camera. According to the voice-over commentary, Mr Bremner then presented the teachings of the Bible and compared Christianity with other religions, promoting his own beliefs. The programme’s presenter was then seen entering the room during a second meeting. She interviewed Mr Bremner, who stated that he was explaining Christianity on a voluntary basis. He was presented on the programme as a “pedlar of religion”.

According to Mr Bremner, he was taken into police custody after the broadcast and the public prosecutor brought proceedings against him for insulting God and Islam. In April 1998 the criminal court found him innocent, taking the view that no offence had been made out.

Mr Bremner subsequently sued the presenter and producers of the programme claiming damages. His claim was dismissed by the domestic courts on the ground that the footage in question did not concern details of Mr Bremner’s private life but was part of a documentary on a topical issue of interest to public opinion and that there had been an important general interest in the broadcasting of the programme.

Relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Mr Bremner alleges that the broadcasting of the documentary and the refusal of the judicial authorities to grant his request for compensation breached his right to respect for his private life.

Press release ECHR 299 (2015) 09/10/2015

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