Turkish actress wins Europe court 'terrace kiss' privacy case

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday condemned 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.

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

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

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

Its ruling was then upheld by both Turkey's Court of Cassation and its Constitutional Court.

The ECHR named the male actor involved as a prominent figure with the initials S.G.. However Turkish media had widely reported that he is Sahan Gokbakar, one of the most famous screen faces in the country and star of blockbuster comic movies.

In its ruling, the ECHR 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 rigour 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 Tuzunatac, 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 ECHR, 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 Demirtas.