Azer Ahmadov v. Azerbaijan (Application no. 3409/10)
A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgement.CASE-OF-AZER-AHMADOV-v.-AZERBAIJAN
69. In this connection, the Court observes that the courts in the civil proceedings, referring solely to the MNS’s letter of 10 May 2008, concluded, without addressing the applicant’s clear submissions, that the applicant and A.K. had been using the same telephone number (see paragraphs 9 and 21-23 above). However, it is clear from the text of the above-mentioned letter that on 7 May 2008 the applicant called V.M. and that A.K., who apparently happened to be with V.M. at the moment of that telephone conversation, then took the telephone from V.M. and spoke to the applicant, who was on the other side of the line (see paragraph 9 above). While it is not the Court’s role to replace the national courts in the establishment of the facts, it cannot but observe that it is difficult to understand how the above undisputed facts could possibly lead to the conclusion that the same telephone number was used by both the applicant and A.K. No other evidence in this respect was cited by the domestic courts and the Government did not provide further arguments.
71. The Court has held that as secret surveillance is a serious interference with a person’s right to respect for private life, the judicial authorisation serving as the basis for such surveillance cannot be drafted in such vague terms as to leave room for speculation and assumptions with regard to its content and, most importantly, with regard to the person in respect of whom the measure is being applied (see Hambardzumyan v. Armenia, no. 43478/11, § 65, 5 December 2019). In the instant case, in the absence of clarity as to which telephone number or numbers were to be tapped and what was the connection between those numbers and a person genuinely suspected of having committed a criminal offence, the word “contacts” in the decision of 14 March 2008 and the terms of that decision as a whole were too broad and imprecise.
72. In sum, the Court is of the view that the Government have not demonstrated that the decision of 14 March 2008 had a Convention-compliant legal basis for the impugned interception of the applicant’s telephone conversations.
74. In these circumstances, the Court cannot but conclude that the interference in question was not “in accordance with the law” within the meaning of Article 8 § 2 of the Convention.