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Turkish journalist acquitted for defending military objector

[JURIST] Turkish author and journalist Perihan Magden [profile] was acquitted Thursday for defending an objector who was sentenced to four years in prison for refusing to wear his military uniform. The law in Turkey [JURIST news archive] requires any man over 20 years old to serve in the military for 15 months and does not allow conscientious objections. Magden was charged with trying to encourage individuals against serving their military obligations as she petitioned for the creation of a civilian service rather than a mandated military service requirement. The Turkish court found in favor of Magden, ruling that her opinions were a freedom of expression and were not a crime under the Turkish penal code.

Turkey is a candidate for membership to the European Union [official website] which has encouraged the country to revise provisions in the penal code [JURIST report] that allow for the easy prosecution of individuals who disagree with state policy. The current state of the law has allowed the prosecutions of several authors, journalists and editors for challenging the state's ideals. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile], however, has been reluctant to change the penal laws saying prosecutions hardly ever result in successful convictions. One case against author Orhan Pamuk [TIME profile; JURIST news archive] for making unfavorable remarks about Turkey's stance on genocide during World War I was dismissed [JURIST report] earlier this year, while another case against editor Hrant Dink resulted in a six-month suspended jail sentence [JURIST report] for similar opinions. Reuters has more.


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