Turkish Foreign Minister speaks out against state slander prosecutions

[JURIST] Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul [official website, English version] has taken the unusual step of criticizing the state case against Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk [official website; TIME profile], calling his prosecution for "public denigration of Turkish identity" contrary to the efforts of the government to extend greater individual rights to citizens, including freedom of religion and expression. Pamuk, whose work often examines the clashes between society and the role of Islam, was charged after he made unfavorable remarks to Swiss magazine about Turkey's stance on the mass killing of Armenians during WWI. Under Turkish law, individual rights and freedoms may be restricted to preserve the "integrity of the state", and individuals are often charged with slander against the state. Gul insists that the government is actively seeking to reform the civil and penal code [JURIST report], an issue that has complicated its entry into the European Union. In September EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn accused Turkish authorities of deliberately provoking the EU [JURIST report] by planning to bring Pamuk to trial on December 16, the date of an EU summit. The Financial Times has more.



 

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