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Turkish Foreign Minister says state slander laws could be changed

[JURIST] Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul [official website] said in a TV interview Wednesday that state slander laws used to prosecute Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk [BBC profile] and implicated as recently as Tuesday in a possible prosecutorial probe of comments by a senior EU lawmaker [JURIST report] could be changed if necessary to protect Turkey's reputation, though no decision would be made until after the Turkish Supreme Court delivers an opinion in the case. Pamuk was charged under Article 301 [Amnesty International backgrounder] of the state Penal Code, revised [JURIST report] this past summer to accommodate Turkey's bid to gain European Union (EU) [official website] membership status, that makes insulting the country a crime. Pamuk was arrested after telling a Swiss newspaper that "30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it." Gul has previously criticized the Pamuk trial [JURIST report] as "a public degeneration of Turkish identity," incompatible with simultaneous attempts by the Turkish government to protect the people's right to freedom of expression and religion. The EU has cautioned [JURIST report; EU report] Turkey that its EU bid will not be accepted unless the country improves its record on torture and other human rights violations, including the restriction of freedom of expression. AP has more.

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