Journalist faces retrial for insulting Turkishness

[JURIST Europe] A Turkish appeals court has rejected a prosecutor's recommendation and has ruled that charges still stand against Hrant Dink, a high-profile Turkish-Armenian journalist and editor of the newspaper Agos [media website] who has written about the killings of an estimated million Ottoman Armenians [ANI backgrounder] in the early 20th century. Accused of publicly denigrating or insulting Turkishness under controversial Article 301 [Amnesty International backgrounder] of the Turkish Penal Code, Dink was given a six-months suspended sentence [JURIST report] last October, but in February the chief prosecutor of the Appeals Court ruled that his remarks were in no way offensive. The new court determination sends the case back to the local court where it may be reheard.

Article 301 reads:

1. Public denigration of Turkishness, the Republic or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and three years.

2. Public denigration of the Government of the Republic of Turkey, the judicial institutions of the State, the military or security structures shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years.

3. In cases where denigration of Turkishness is committed by a Turkish citizen in another country the punishment shall be increased by one third.

4. Expressions of thought intended to criticize shall not constitute a crime.
Dink's case, along with several others [JURIST news archive; JURIST report] that deal with freedom of speech in Turkey, is being closely monitored by the EU. Turkey is eager to join the EU and has committed to a series of reforms, yet speech that can be interpreted as an insult to the Turkish identity, the military and the judiciary is still illegal. BBC News has more. From Istanbul, Hurriyet has local coverage.

Tatyana Margolin is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.


 

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