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Turkish court drops state slander charges against 4 journalists

[JURIST] A Turkish court on Tuesday dropped criminal charges against four journalists over reports critical of a court opinion [JURIST report] last fall, but the court upheld charges against a fifth journalist. The court dismissed charges against the four because it held that prosecutors failed to file charges within the two months following publication of the stories. The court upheld charges against Radikal columnist Murat Belge. Belge could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charge under Turkish Penal Code Article 301 [Amnesty International backgrounder], which criminalizes insulting "state judicial institutions."

The five journalists were accused [JURIST report] of publishing stories critical of a court ruling that would have banned a conference on Turkey's involvement in the alleged genocide of its minority Armenian population under the Ottoman Empire. Similar charges against novelist Orhan Pamuk were dropped [JURIST report] earlier this year. Turkey [JURIST news archive] has been under pressure from the EU to improve its freedom of expression laws as part of its bid for EU membership. AP has more.

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